Thursday, February 03, 2005

lust and anger

there was a hint in my comments yesterday that making friends with our lust and anger meant embracing sin - that's not what this means or what i'm saying.

spending time in silence and meditation is about understanding and feeling the emotions that cause the sin - it's about looking at the temptation, wants and feelings without the actions - understanding more about why i feel i have unsatisfied needs and unresolved relationships. sitting with those things - not sin, and holding them in the light. this helps in stopping the sin from actually happening - it breaks it's power over me and helps me build bridges instead of walls in my relationships and allows god to meet my needs instead of grasping to meet them myself.

the most helpful tool i've had in maintaining my abstinence and sobriety over sexual addiction and compulsive overeating is by carving out margins in my mind and in my time. realizing that i don't have to react to temptation or be shamed by it (remember jesus was tempted - it's not a sin to be tempted) into sin has been the biggest victory of my recovery. before it was temptation/shame/sin, bam, bam, bam - i would give in because the shame that came from being tempted caused me to feel like i had no choice but to continue in my way of life and cycles of addiction.

but carving out that time - to respond, not react to the temptation or emotion - specifically anger or lust (and lust isn't just sexual) has given me breathing space so my mind can engage, my heart can feel the emotions and my soul can give voice to hope. it's how jesus handled his temptations - i'm not saying that in a spiritual one-up-man-ship way - but really - look at the way he faced temptation - there was no avoidance, there was no fear or shame - he was spending time in silence and prayer previous to all of the documented temptations, he took a breath, engaged his brain and soul (i don't mean a soul like ours - i don't want to get into the theological stuff, i'm willing to admit he's got way more soul than we do!) and addressed the temptation head on and told it to flee. you have no home here, no right, no nest to lay your filthy little eggs - be gone! (my paraphrase)

now jesus did this instinctively, he wasn't compulsive or an addict - but we can learn this response - but it only comes with margins - it only comes with silence, space and time to make friends with our thoughts and feelings - not be driven by them to behavior that causes us to sin or escape into behavior that is destructive.

nouwen continues today:
How do we befriend our inner enemies lust and anger? By listening to what they are saying. They say, "I have some unfulfilled needs" and "Who really loves me?" Instead of pushing our lust and anger away as unwelcome guests, we can recognize that our anxious, driven hearts need some healing. Our restlessness calls us to look for the true inner rest where lust and anger can be converted into a deeper way of loving.

There is a lot of unruly energy in lust and anger! When that energy can be directed toward loving well, we can transform not only ourselves but even those who might otherwise become the victims of our anger and lust. This takes patience, but it is possible.
here's to loving well, telling the temptations in our lives to go to hell (in jesus' name!) and finding that true inner rest that brings us all to a deeper way of loving.

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