“Hurting Yourself”

Ephesians 4:29-32

First I need to apologize for being so poor at keeping this blog up to date. I haven’t been able to put the time into this particular part of the web page in order to provide a useful article. I am aiming to update this weekly, other than during the times I am on vacation. For those who have missed this, I am sorry. For those who haven’t missed it, well you don’t really have anything to complain about. But you still might. Let me see if I can point out something that might be helpful.

One of the patterns which so many live is to fill their minds with anger, hostility, and resentment; usually towards some very insignificant issue though they have built it into something loaded with emotion. This negativity eventually breaks through, often in the forms of personal attacks, insults, or other behaviors intended to vent the hostility. Unfortunately, what this tends to do is to create feelings of guilt and shame, which have to be justified by again rehashing the subject, finding additional reasons for offense, and loading additional emotion. This cycle repeats, each time destroying self-worth, increasing feelings of resentment, and creating distance.

Left to itself, what this pattern will do is to cause a person to find themselves increasingly isolated and alienated. The buildup of hostility requires additional venting, new targets, and additional places for expressing this filth that begins to dominate a person’s thinking. Ironically in our society, there are a large number of people who live in this place of attack, hostility, and shame. They often find systems and other people who will support this continued sense of outrage, anger, and negativity; but these groups and systems are seldom nurturing. Quite the opposite, they tend to create short term feelings of relief at the expense of much greater damage to the person’s inner life.

The sad thing is that the only answer is to break the addiction; which requires forgiveness and humility. Step one to ending the cycle is to stop. Stop allowing evil to come out of the mouth. Stop allowing hostility to dominate the mind. Stop allowing malice and hostility to dominate the day. Just stop. But that is only step one. And as Jesus pointed out, casting out evil without refilling the space with God’s Holy Spirit only makes for an invitation for more evil (Matthew 10:43-45). The next step requires a lifetime of work which is to replace the insecurity, anxiety, and hostility with love, forgiveness, and acceptance.

What happens is that as we practice kindness, compassion, and love, we begin to experience being loved, valuable, and appreciated. Instead of feeling that we have to fight in order to be noticed and respected, we discover that we are loved by God and experience a sense of appreciation through serving God. As we grow in this way we begin to feed our spirit through relationships that are loving and compassionate, and we begin to starve our hostility and negativity by ceasing to pay attention to it.

Personally, I wish I had known more about this process and found resources for growing in this way earlier. It is a lifelong process and a continual journey. But the fruit it bears is amazing and I hope more people will discover the gift of getting off of the addiction to bitterness and hostility so that they might discover what it means to be joyful and to know peace.

Peace,

Pastor Jack

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