I am contemplating my “furies”; what gets me so upset that I am blinded by anger? Honestly and sadly, I’m not overly much concerned about social injustices. I know I should be, and I’m ashamed to admit (even to myself and especially to God) that I am not. Oh, sure; certain things bother me, and I might even feel sorrow about them, but God’s pure anger? I don’t think so. Conversely, (and thankfully), I do not find myself misdirecting my own anger as God’s.
Does this make it all a wash?
I know hands down what possesses me, what can cause me to say things I really don’t want to (at least my True Self doesn’t want to, my ego happily spouts things off rapid fire), as well as to sink into the pit of self-pity. RESENTMENT. It is, after a year of really thinking about my “Goats”, probably the most stubborn and persistent one; even more so than anxiety and recrimination!
This is the scripture I’d assigned to the symbolic exorcism of the Goat of Resentment last Lent:
“Keep your heart with all vigilance for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23
Wise words (Proverbs, after all!) yet, well, so very hard to do at times. When resentment flares up within me, I wonder if it’s driven by physical factors (like a child being overly tired who ultimately throws a temper tantrum), past wounds that are still not forgotten or healed, or my ego, plain and simple, desiring recognition, accolades, applause, and groveling (no, not really that!) Probably a mixture of them all.
Richard Rohr says about anger: “If you keep…justifying why you deserve this anger, you are probably acting out of your own offended ego. When you can let go of it…after properly acknowledging it, you can probably retrieve it without its excessive charge and then use it effectively. If you can’t do that, I hate to say it, but you are likely “possessed” and need an “exorcism”!”
So, my head may not whip around at an 180 degree angle while my mouth projectile vomits split pea soup, but the sight (when I am possessed by resentment-driven anger), is not pretty nevertheless (if you didn’t catch the reference to a particular movie here, you are either way too young or have never seen one of the scariest horror movies of all time!)
Here is another thing I’ve realized as I’ve thought about it. I do not resent what I am asked to do so much as I resent not being acknowledged for doing it. Sadly, it does appear, then, that it’s ego-driven. First half of life stuff. Obviously, I’m still a long ways from Falling Upwards. I suppose I should be grateful that at least I recognize it; and I can continue to humbly rely on God to point out to me what I need to work on.
Ego-Resentment-Anger-Forgetfulness (not keeping my heart, not taming my tongue) = Unacceptable Behavior = (the potential for) Destruction
Richard Rohr’s suggestion? “Allow another person’s smile, hug or words to dissipate “the whole thing”. In so doing, they perform an exorcism You might resent them (my aside: the Devil never takes too kindly to the exorcist!) but this reveals the actual emptiness of your anger. It was not really “you” at all, but you had let it become you.”
And, another person is not required for the procedure!
“When The Furies have you, your practice can be to make eye contact and smile at another person – deliberately detaching from your Furies –”
And, so we begin!