Random Blog Clay Feet: February 26, 2009
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rage and Healing

I woke up before 3 A.M. this morning and couldn't go back to sleep for awhile because my brain wanted to think about the events happening currently in the life of someone I care about deeply. The amount of abuse and injustice that he has been suffering for nearly a year now has taken him close to the point of death until he felt he could take it no longer. As a result he felt compelled to cave in to the demands of the corrupt judges who were instigating and promoting his physical and psychological torture just so he could continue to have some semblance of life left.

As I have watched this situation intensify over the past few months I have repeatedly struggled with feelings of anger, resentment, rage and deep desires for revenge against the evil men and even women involved in this case. But at the same time I also felt strong warnings from the Holy Spirit in my mind reminding me of the consequences of indulging in those kinds of feelings and imaginations. There have been many times that I have simply had to force myself to stop thinking about it to avoid become overcome with rage and hatred that I knew would become a source of regret and weakness for me very quickly.

Over the past two weeks the persecution has intensified for my friend. Even though he had not even so much as had a trial and had been refused opportunity to even be heard properly in a court of so-called law, he was thrown into a cell designed for the most hardened and dangerous criminals without any spare clothes. He had been stripped of even the bare necessities that he have been able to acquire through his long stay in prison and was only able to grab his Bible before they put him into solitary confinement under the highest level of security. And this is a gentle man who was not long ago voted as the teacher of the year and nominated for the national title as well. Nothing has changed about him except that he found himself the object of focus by a system so full of corruption that it feels threatened by any revelations of truth.

While held in this new oppression for the past two weeks he was harshly interrogated at length even though he was not even accused of any crimes remotely related to such treatment. He was fed through a slot in the door as if he were a dangerous wild beast and was even being deprived of many things he needed to survive physically without the outright taking of his life by execution. And all of this is taking place in this land that we call free and just.

Because of all these prolonged and deliberate intense attacks on his life by people claiming to supposedly uphold and protect the freedoms of all Americans, he finally gave in yesterday to let them have whatever they wanted in a plea bargain arrangement. He realized that there was no hope of them ever facing the truth that he has been insisting on over the past year and that all they wanted to do was to protect their cover of deception keeping the truth about their own corruption from becoming public even if it might cost the life of an innocent man.

There is much more to this story that I don't even know about myself yet – the horrors of prison life, the screaming guards who insulted him daily at times about things totally out of his control, the nutritional starvation imposed on him, the psychological abuse focused on him to force compliance with their desires. I am afraid that if I knew too much about this case that it might be too overwhelming for me emotionally at this point. I am actually very thankful that God protects all of us from knowing most of the horrors that go on all the time around the world because none of us have the capacity to survive such awareness.

But that is not to say we are to ignore abuse of authority or open cruelty whenever we become aware of it. What I have been struggling with is to know just how God wants me to relate to such revelations. And one thing that I am becoming increasingly aware of is that this is forcing me to face some of my own deep triggers that are set off each time I hear more of the details about the horrors of injustice going on. Whenever I feel that deep anger welling up inside of me I realize that my real fight is to face my own rage from that deep reservoir inside of me that has not yet been properly drained and refilled with grace and truth.

I have become more aware of this hidden cesspool of rage over the past few years. One time I saw a picture in my imagination of my heart of where this was located inside of me. I saw a scene that looked like a peaceful lake with nice grassy lawns along its shore and tall trees here and there. The water looked clean and it all looked like a good place to swim and boat and have fun and picnic with no sign of danger anywhere obvious.

But leaking up from deep beneath the floor of that lake were occasional bubbles of methane gas that would sometimes break the surface of the water and give off a foul stench into the air. I began to realize that deep under the bottom of that lake there was a giant container like a heavily reinforced concrete bunker very full of resentment, anger, rage and unresolved issues from all of my past history. Much of it was siphoned into that bunker when I was young and being filled with hostility by the abuses and dysfunction of those around me. As I grew older I learned how to manage it more effectively and thus the reinforcement around the container to keep it from coming out into the open and destroying all my relationships.

But the problem has been all along that I did not learn the importance of getting healing for all of this garbage being compressed deep inside of me. The religion that I grew up with taught me to simply repress all the feelings that didn't line up properly with the appearance-oriented religion so popular among Christians. So, like most of those around me, I learned to stuff my anger, my hurts, my pain and all the other garbage created by life and people's treatment of me into this deep hole in the ground and then trying to make stronger and stronger lids to keep it all contained. I was learning to use ever stronger garbage compactors to hide my waste and pain instead of getting rid of it properly and sending it away to the real landfill.

But just like the problem in landfills that we can see all around this country, the results of concentrating garbage into an enclosed area underground always produces dangerous and flammable gases that can become a real hazard to health and public safety. The same is true in my emotional life. What I have been learning over recent years is that anything that I have not faced and dealt with honestly and openly in my emotions has never really gone away even though I may think it has because it is no longer in sight. All these things simply accumulate deep inside to become a source of confusion, of explosive triggers that can be set off causing eruptions that come as a total surprise to everyone including myself.

The problem is even worse however. That is because, unlike physical explosives, these hidden reservoirs of ignition are not really disarmed by repeated detonations. They remain just as potent as ever to be detonated again and again and may even become more potent with time until the root causes are exposed and the embedded false beliefs are replaced with grace and truth only found in the face of Jesus and the real truth about God.

Though I have learned these things in principle over the past few years, I am now finding myself more and more in positions of opportunity to put them into practice. And in fact I have been practicing on many triggers that have been eliminated over the years and have enjoyed a great deal more authentic peace than I ever had during the first half of my life. But now I am becoming more aware that the real big stuff, the really volatile stash may still be full of even more deadly caches of ammunition just waiting to go off if it is not dismantled very carefully by a trained and sincere expert.

I am becoming aware that the only real expert that I currently know of is the promptings of Jesus sent through His Spirit to speak to me and mentor me as to how to deal with these issues as they become exposed. At times I wish that I could also work to disarm these munition dumps with other experts who have been trained by Jesus to do this kind of work, but so far that has not been available to me. So I accept the fact that God is faithful enough to work with me directly and in the process may even be training me to be His assistant in possibly helping others to disarm their emotional ammunition dumps in the future.

As I faced these intense feelings stirring up from deep in my cesspool of old ammunition yesterday, and especially as I was thinking about it very early this morning once again as I lay in bed not being able to sleep, I was impressed that another important lesson of disarmament that I have learned was also needed to be effective in the current danger that I find myself in now. I became aware that not only do I have to face my anger squarely and look for its underlying triggers, but that one of the most effective methods of disarming this overwhelming rage that threatens to destroy me is to implement the principle of real forgiveness that I have also been learning over the past few years.

I have felt so enriched and blessed as I have been learning the real truth about what forgiveness really is recently. But that insight has continued to deepen each time that I revisit it, and this time is no exception. It seems that time after time God brings me into new situations and then reminds me of my lessons from the past that He has taught me separately and asks me to view the pieces put together in the present. And each time I get the distinct sensation that the puzzle picture just keeps getting clearer and more obvious. This is always a source of encouragement for me and causes me to want to know even more of the ways that God has designed reality and how to live in a way that causes me to thrive and live from my heart in peace and joy.

What I am becoming acutely aware of now is that I need to apply the principle of authentic forgiveness that I have learned alongside the principles of exposure and healing that I have also been learning in order to more effectively deal with my current exposure of this hidden rage. Anger is a warning that something else much deeper is lurking behind it that needs attention if I am to ever resolve the cause of that symptom. I have been learning to be more intentional and observant in discerning what might be hiding behind various emotions like anger and find out what it has been trying to mask for so long. There is almost always a different emotion hiding behind anger that is very fearful of exposure but that needs to be identified and dealt with directly before the anger trigger can ever be dissipated.

Over the past few years as I have sought to practice this new skill, I am finding that it is becoming easier to spot these hiding background emotions and coax them out into the open as long as I make my mind safe for them to disclose themselves. It is as if they are like little hurt children terrified of being abused or misunderstood yet again and simply need time and caring attention to make them feel safe enough to disclose their secret fears and feelings. As I cultivate an internal atmosphere of kindness, honesty and freedom from all condemnation in my own heart, these quivering “little people” inside of me feel more safe to come out of hiding and trust me with their secrets in hopes that they can be released from their cells and grow up into full maturity and wholeness like other parts of me have been able to do.

Many times these “little people” are living in very old memories from my past that are long forgotten by my conscious memory. But nevertheless they are just as real and powerful as the day that they were forced into their little prison cells by the legalistic guards of condemnation and false religion long ago.

Oh my! As I just wrote that last line it hit me very forcefully how close this analogy is to the situation that my friend has been experiencing over the past year. Maybe that is why this situation is stirring up so much intense feeling inside of me besides the fact of the obvious abuse he has been suffering. What I may be feeling is resonance with a lifetime of similar feelings but from very different sources. I do not imply in the slightest that what I have experienced could be anywhere near as traumatic as what he has gone through. But the resonance remains and serves as an opportunity for me to discover some hidden prison cells inside of myself that contain prisoners kept in darkness far too long just as he has been.

One reason that I did not get up early this morning and begin writing all of this down sooner as I often do is because I wanted to focus more on experiencing it at the heart level instead of capturing it with my left brain, as stimulating as that may be. I am trying to move more into learning how to apply the many things I have been learning about healing and wholeness to my own heart to have more balance in my own experience and also become more authentic. So I just laid there in bed and talked with God about what I was thinking and feeling and focused on practicing the kind of forgiveness that He was prompting me to do. I found that as I did the peace that had been lost began to return and to fill my heart once again.

The more I focused on intentional forgiveness and taking ownership of my bitterness and resentment, the more I felt in real time the presence and love of God coming back into my emotions and internal atmosphere. I realized in amazement that all of these theoretical things God has been teaching me recently really do work in real-life difficult situations if I am willing to humble myself and choose to practice them against my natural feelings and reactions. I also realized that I need to be consistent in keeping my mind focused on that path and not allowing myself to indulge in even little feelings of resentment or I may be jerked off the road to real freedom quite quickly and have to make my way back all over again.

I am beginning to experience the awareness of the difference between knowing how to come to healing and actually choosing to go into it myself. I suppose this is the process of de-hypocritizing my life if I can make up a word here. The more I choose to practice with my heart what I am learning in my left brain the more real these things will become inside of me. I am very aware of how easy it is to learn and learn and learn but to continue to avoid submitting to the needed repairs in ones own self. But I want to come closer to having authentic balance in my soul where my left brain knowledge library is used to assist my right brain real-time applications of the principles I have been so privileged to learn over recent years.

In this case I am faced with the need to directly focus my attention on the rage that I am tempted to feel toward this judge in particular who is so obviously despotic and cruel. I remind myself of the destructive effects that my own anger will have on me if I allow myself to indulge in desires of revenge against him. I am then reminded forcefully of how God feels toward everyone who has sinned against Him and how much grace and forgiveness He has already unconditionally provided for everyone whether they want it or not.

God reminded me of the study that I did for several months on the roots of bitterness. Part of that study included facing my need for taking very seriously the command to let go of my desires for vengeance. This time God also reminded me while I was facing that choice again that He has been showing me the importance and benefits of obeying that command. The more that I have learned about how God feels toward me and toward all sinners, the more acutely aware I become of the truth that God's ways are not my ways and that His methods for retribution are very foreign to the way most of us want to see it carried out.

Then, in case I still have doubts about the validity of viewing this evil person from heaven's perspective, God reminds me of the consequences of not choosing this path of receiving His attitude of unconditional forgiveness and compassion. From the parable of the debtor I am forcefully reminded that I will only put myself in the hands of torturers and will keep myself in prison if I think I can get away with remaining angry and bitter toward anyone who makes themselves an enemy of truth and right. This thinking is totally contrary to my natural assumptions and perceptions of the right way to relate to evil people, but it has been clearly shown me through many lessons and revelations from the Word of God for a number of years now. It is just that now I am faced more intensely with actually practicing it at the heart level and applying to myself all the things that God has been making clearer to my head over the past few years.

What amazes me is the sudden and unexpected new feelings and perceptions and thoughts that appear in my mind and heart after I choose to act on what I know is the right way to respond in spite of my human logic and feelings. The impossible begins to happen very suddenly inside of me and I actually find myself becoming free of the very animosity that so recently was tormenting my heart and keeping me in chains of bitterness and even rage at times. But these new feelings and impulses are like tender little plants showing up that I need to protect, nurture and cultivate if they are to have time to take deeper root and grow up into stronger maturity in my own life. I cannot just assume that because I am enjoying their sudden appearance right now that I am safe to relax. I find myself repeatedly needing to make the choice to let go of my right to justice and fairness and to take full ownership of my pain without indulging in cravings for revenge. Otherwise the enemy will have more access once again to my heart and will fill it very quickly with the old chains and lies that have keep me from thriving for most of my life.

God, I want to praise you for the incredible things you have been teaching me over the past few years. I want to praise you for your faithfulness and goodness and kindness that leads me to want to live your way instead of the familiar ways of revenge and retaliation. I thank you so much for how you have been leading me all of my life toward real freedom from fear, guilt, shame and especially condemnation. I still want to feel completely safe in your arms, but I also know that this is more about you than it is about me. I choose to believe that you are going to continue to do what you say you can do in my life.

Thank-you for your unconditional forgiveness, your unconditional love, your unconditional grace. Continue to live inside of me, to display your character through my life, to make me a successful experiment of your powerful grace to transform a legalistic, condemning religion addict into a loving, humble, trusting child learning to reflect your beauty. Father, I am so painfully aware of how very little of your beauty can yet be seen in my life. I claim your forgiveness and simply trust you to continue your work in me until I fully grow up into the likeness of Jesus your Son.