I’m not really an angry person. But occasionally I get upset about things. Not upset enough to do anything drastic (the proverbial “going postal” has never been a serious temptation ;-), but upset enough to have it affect my mind and heart and skew my judgments about things; upset enough to have it darken my soul in ways I don’t like.
As a spiritual exercise, it’s helpful for me to ask a series of “why” questions when I’m feeling dark in the soul to try to get to the “rock bottom” of what’s going on in me. Recently I was pretty upset about something, so I hit the “start” button on the why exercise to see what it would unearth. It went something like this:
“Why am I angry?” Answer: “Because I’m feeling frustrated”
“Why am I feeling frustrated?” Answer: “Because I can’t seem to control what’s happening”
“Why would I feel frustrated at not being in control?” Answer: “Because I think I should be able to be in control”
“Why do you think you should be able to be in control?” Answer: “Because I’m one of Adam’s kids and I sometimes like to live as though I’m in control; which is really another way of saying that sometimes I like to live as though God does not exist.”
It’s helpful during times like that to remember that Christianity is not an exercise in being “in control”; Christianity is a journey of following Jesus in a risky adventure in which we are definitely NOT in control; which is to say that Christianity by definition is about living “out of control” as our lives are taken up in the great stream of God’s working in history. Failing to remember this, I will inevitably become a selfish, self-seeking control freak who wants everything to happen according to my schedule and gets upset when I don’t get my way.
It’s truly amazing how functionally atheistic so much of our lives are… how in a myriad of subtle ways, we are led to believe that we are the Prime Storytellers of our lives, when in fact all evidence points to the contrary. We really are Adam’s kids … children of Parents who made the mistake of believing that living as though God didn’t exist was a good idea and would make for a happy life.
But God gives us a better alternative
He gives us the chance of becoming his sons and daughters, molded by the Spirit into the image of THE Son, who didn’t worship at the altar of his own volition but instead – consistently, repeatedly, sacrificially – abandoned his fate into the hands of his Loving Father, who knows better than any of us how to “mean” our lives in the context of his cosmic purposes.
In short, we’re called to make the journey from being Adam’s kids to becoming God’s sons and daughters … which is another way of saying that make the long, hard journey of learning to live “out of control” to the God who “holds the whole world in his hands.”
That helps me. I hope it helps you too.