Originally posted August 27, 2019
I’ve seen several posts and articles recently where preachers are scolding preachers for not yelling and pointing fingers at the atrocities in our culture. I even saw one that basically said if your preacher isn’t screaming and fist-pounding about what is going on in our world you should find yourself a new church.
I choose a different route.
I choose to focus on shaping and opening myself up to the transformation of the Holy Spirit and helping others do the same.
I think that the yelling and finger-pointing and blame-game and addiction-to-anger is one of the great atrocities of our current culture. We don’t watch the news anymore because “news’ has been replaced by programs that encourage and promote heated argument over civil discourse, division over understanding, hatred instead of community all for the sake of entertainment and ratings.
If I spend my time yelling and labeling and throwing blame around, and encouraging others to to do the same, how am I different from the people against whom I speak?
If I spend my emotional energy trying to shame and belittle those I think are out of order, I’m not left with enough energy to grow in my own spiritual and emotional wellness. How can I lead others into spiritual maturity if I’m still behaving immaturely?
Yes, I despise the acts of those who label people in ways that dehumanize them. Yes, I believe we have a moral crisis in our country. Yes, I see the hated and bigotry and racism that is becoming the norm again. Yes, it all makes me very angry. But mostly it breaks my heart.
And so I turn toward the Creator of my heart and say “heal me so that I can help heal others.” I pray, “Teach me how to be more compassionate so that I can model Your self-giving compassion for others.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t recall ever having my mind changed by someone speaking in anger. Most people can’t hear the words of the one yelling in anger.
I serve the loving, liberating, and life-giving God who calls me to reveal that Divine Love to the world. I follow Jesus who teaches compassion, mercy, and grace. I don’t always get it right. Sometimes I express my anger in the moment. But I do not recall a single incident when I reacted in anger that turned out positively. I can recall many situations when I responded from a place of mercy and grace that actually had a positive outcome. I believe this is how we can make the world a better place.
So, I invite you to try the spiritual practice of turning off the yelling. When you are listening to the radio or watching tv and the show hosts, guests, newscasters, anyone begins speaking from a place of anger, turn it off. And then use this spare time to do something positive – make a list of things you are grateful for, spend time in conversation with a friend or loved one, pray for those who are fostering the anger addiction in our culture, take a walk, sing a song, play a game. (Disclaimer – please don’t hear me telling you to ignore what is happening in our world. Just find an alternative source that actually provides factual stories of the events in a non-angry manner.)
I pray for all of us a week of peace and compassion in which we find the treasure of time to learn to love better.