Pay Attention to Your Emotions
Lent week 4 At the end of the day, part of the process of the Daily Examine Prayer, is to pay attention to the emotions you experienced during the day. This is where we need courage; courage, because we are entering the arena of self-work. Emotions are not negative or positive. They are. What we do with those emotions is the issue. Do we let the emotions carry us to places we wish we had not gone? Did they make us say things we wish we had not said? The monks of the desert in north Africa dealt and discussed the challenges of emotions frequently. The following two sayings are from Christians who lived 1,500 years ago and struggle with their emotions the way you and I do. “The Abbas and Ammas (5th century desert monks) did not believe that temptation is sin, and they expended a lot of energy trying to help the brothers and sisters understand its inevitability. A brother came to see Abba Poemen and said to him, “Abba, I have many thoughts and they put me in danger.” The old man led him outside and said to him, “Expand your chest and do not breathe in.” He said, “I cannot do that.” Then the old man said to him, “If you cannot do that, no more can you prevent thoughts from arising, but you can resist them.” “A brother was restless in the community and often moved to anger. So he said: “I will go, and live somewhere by myself. And since I shall be able to talk or listen to no one, I shall be tranquil, and my passionate anger will cease.” He went out and lived alone in a cave. But one day he filled his jug with water and put it on the ground. It happened suddenly to fall over. He filled it again, and again it fell. And this happened a third time. And in a rage he snatched up the jug and broke it. Returning to his right mind, he knew that the demon of anger had mocked him, and he said:… “I will return to the community. Wherever you live, you need effort and patience and above all God’s help.” The self-work we are called to engage in is the work of developing spiritual and emotional maturity. This comes from recognizing the emotions that flood through us, addressing the fact that they exist, then learning to let them go without succumbing to the urge to act upon those emotions. The way to grow and become stronger in this skill is to talk to God about the work and practice that needs to be done. Then tomorrow strive, with God, to become stronger.
May you be filled with God’s peace.
The quotes are from: Roberta C. Bondi. To Pray and to Love