It was late last night when I finished an assignment related to work. Through the course of the evening I attempted to focus on the task at hand, but at times found myself preoccupied with thoughts from earlier in the day. You probably know what that’s like. Something weighs heavily on your mind and it continues to have an extended effect upon your thoughts. The conversation had been so disturbing; I couldn’t get it out of my head.
I was on my way home from work when I received a telephone call from a lady that needed lodging. She had told me earlier that she was homeless, but that was several weeks ago and at the time she had a roof over her head. She was in a medical facility. I was hopeful that the problems she expressed from sharing life with a husband whose dependency on alcohol had turned their marriage into something she could no longer tolerate would somehow get resolved. That obviously fell under the category of wishful thinking.
When the lady called, she sounded desperate. At best she only had a temporary plan in mind. She wanted to move temporarily into a motel in a small country town while she sorted out her options and waited for her next social security check. I told her our church would assist with covering the expense of her motel room. It is not infrequent that our benevolence committee at church attempts to meet an unmet need. I knew we would gladly do so. Later in the evening I ensured those arrangements were made. It saddened me that I didn’t have a more positive outcome that I could offer.
Can you imagine living with the level of conflict that lady was experiencing? The very thought of the sadness in her voice as we talked on the telephone resurfaced throughout the evening. It reminded me of something profound that a friend at dinner had shared last week. He said, “We destroy the things that we love”.
During the course of the evening, I also thought about another conversation from earlier in the day. I have the good fortune of being surrounded by folks who enjoy life, interact playfully with one another and attempt to find adventure and levity in the midst of the commonplace. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d be the first to say I can both dish it out and take it. Something was said in response to a comment I made and at face value the response was really funny. Despite the fact it was really funny, I didn’t laugh immediately. Actually, the response to my comment caught me a little off-guard because I wasn’t immediately sure it was a joke. If it was a joke, it was hilarious. If it was an accurate perception of another’s opinion of me, then it highlighted a character flaw of which I was unaware.
Trust me, the last thing I need is something else to work on. I don’t always get it right and there are days I wonder if I ever will. The past couple of days, I’ve made reference to anger in my blogs. I am grateful that anger doesn’t control my life, but there are times when it raises it’s ugly head. It is never a feel good moment. I don’t like being angry. Every time I deal with anger I have the thought that I’ve just ingested poison.
I know people who are even tempered. They are always mad. I can’t imagine how they survive in that mindset. It would kill me. Actually, it reality it is probably killing them. One writer expresses it this way: “Many people tend to suppress their anger or put off dealing with it. They bottle anger up inside and the problem with this is the fact that bottled up anger always leaks and when it does it poisons our bodies, our minds and our relationships. Anger that is internalized can be just as destructive as anger that is vented. I mean burying anger is a lot like the contemporary environmental problem of burying toxic waste. When canisters of poison are buried underground just outside the city limits, everyone thinks the problems is gone but later people start getting sick as the poison leaks into the ground water”.
“Well, bottled up-buried anger does the same thing. It poisons our bodies in the form of headaches, stomach problems, sleep disorders and a host of other physical symptoms. It poisons our minds in the form of distorted thinking, irrationality, loss of self-esteem, confusion our minds in the form of distorted thinking, irrationality, loss of self-esteem confusion, cynicism, hopelessness, and despair. In fact, Dr. Paul Meier, co-founder of the Minrith Meier New Life Clinics says that anger is probably responsible for 95% of psychological depressions”.
“People are depressed because of the anger that is bottle up inside of them. The fact is bottled up anger-anger that we never deal with – always eventually manifests itself in some way. So we need to take the time to deal with it-after we analyze it and find out the problem we need to take the time to resolve it”.
I’ve heard the expression, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” I guess that falls under the concept of “do unto others as they do unto you”. The whole concept of “an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth” seems a little wearisome for me. If one lives with the notion that for every wrong done there should be a compensating measure of justice, it doesn’t offer a lot of hope that life can get better. Without the gift of forgiveness and ability to hit the reset button on relationships, civilization is doomed. That is particularly true if we really do destroy the things that we love.
I’d much rather embrace the concept, “Let’s be friends”. Honestly life doesn’t have to be as hard as some people make it. Yet the observation my friend shared at dinner last week has more truth that I’d like to admit. We really do have a tendency to destroy the things we love.
If we live with the notion “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” it won’t be long before we find ourselves darkness. We will all be blind.
Perhaps Andy Rooney’s perception is correct. “For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness”.
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s approach seems to have merit. “To get up each morning with the resolve to be happy…is to set our own conditions to the events of each day. To do this is to condition circumstances instead of being conditioned by them.”
Two other quotes and I’ll let you get on with your day. “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” – Henry Nouwen
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be”. – Abraham Lincoln
All My Best!