Skip to main content

Are you quick to become angry?

"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger."
James 1:19



As is part of my job, I work with a team to train others on how to "Cultivate Compassionate Culture" in their lives and workplace organizations.  I overheard one of the attendees say, "You know, this information is really just New Testament teachings in a different context.  And isn't it interesting that 2,000 years ago someone wrote down this revolutionary information and here we are 2,000 years later learning about it again because of how quickly we forget?!"

He was right.  Human nature is not naturally compassionate.  We are naturally slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to become angry.  It is simply a part of our wiring.  There is a scientific, evolutionary explanation for why we respond to others in this way.

Our brains are wired for survival.  So any time I receive stimulus that feels threatening, my brain and body reacts in a way that demands self-preservation.  The threat response is even more sensitive if we have been injured during childhood when our brains are in the process of development (the injury can be emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, socially, etc.). 

So why would God want for us to work hard to change the way that we respond to outside stimulus?  Well, science is also showing that stress can be detrimental to our overall health and life longevity.  When our brains are on high alert, it floods our bodies with chemicals (adrenaline and others) to keep us watchful and ready to react to danger.  Fight, flight, or freeze?  If those chemicals are constantly pumping into our bloodstream, we get sick.  

When I read the Scripture above, I read compassion.  So much of Scripture is interpreted as command, as a rule to be followed lest your soul be condemned to eternal fire and gnashing of teeth.
I don't think that's the case at all.  When God tells us to do or not to do something, it is always in our best interest.  

God's pretty smart.

This whole science thing?  He created it.  He understands exactly how our bodies and brains work and how we respond to stress and trauma.  He created us in this way so that we will survive.  But He also desires that we will thrive.  He wants that the stress response will be th
e exception, not the rule.  That the other 98% of the time we will live in peace ("that passes all understand") and harmony with Him and with nature.

All of this begins with compassion toward yourself.  Are you slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to become angry?  Have compassion.  I'm guessing that there have been times when you have felt extremely threatened.  I'm guessing that you are caring for yourself in the best way that you know how.  God longs for you to be well.  Take a minute to breathe.  Breathe in compassion and love.  
You're worth it.

until soon,
b.

Comments

  1. Dang, this is good. Your, "Cultivate Compassionate Culture" goes along well with "Gentle Teaching" which I have been training staff who work with folks with intellectual disabilities for years.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

What it means when a narcissistic pastor says, "I love the church"

I ran across this article while going through a rough place in my life.  It had profound meaning for me in dealing with some of the individuals in my life that have narcissistic traits. The article highlights the fact that when a narcissist says, “I love you,” he really means that he loves the way that you (fill in the blank): take care of his needs, focus your energy on him, submit, etc. Individuals that have been in relationships with narcissists often admit to feeling crazy, not recognizing the abuse while it was occurring, and to keeping secrets to cover for his abuse, infidelity, etc.  I wonder if this is what many people are recognizing in the #exevangelical movement.  Because as I was going through this article again, I began to realize that many of the narcissistic traits could be applied to the many pastors and men in church leadership that I have known through the years. Being in church ministry for twelve years, I became proficient at silence and lies to cover the behavior…

To "speak the truth in love" does not mean "reprimand"

"...speaking the truth in love..." Ephesians 4:15
Notice the "dot, dot, dot," before and after that phrase?  But how many times have you heard it as a full sentence?  Speak the Truth in love.  As a full sentence, it loses all context.  And how often is this phrase used as an excuse to reprimand another "in love" and tell them about their multitude of sins?
The New Living Translation has a completely different take on this phrase.  It states, "we will hold to the truth in love."  Now, that changes it a bit, doesn't it?  That makes the action about me and not about me acting on another.  
In context, Ephesians 4 is talking about the Body of Christ and how we must work to grow up and mature in the Lord.  "Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe..."  The work is for each of us to grow up and cling to the Lord's love.  
And what Truth are we clinging to?  It is the truth that we are d…

I visited a Mosque. And went to church.

Today, our local International Rescue Committee organization hosted a solidarity event at the Islamic Society of Wichita while their members were gathering for Friday prayers.  We stood outside, held signs, and let them know that we are with them.  That we are forthem.

But before the event I met my new friend, Ratna, for a tour and some lunch in the well-worn gym.  I was running a little early so I sat by myself on the concrete fountain in front of the building.
It was a beautiful day.  The sun was warming me.  I could smell the food cooking.  A suburban in the parking lot said, "Girl Scout Cookies For Sale!" written in white shoe polish on the dark windows.

Pretty soon, Ratna pulled up in her minivan, tagged along behind by her 5-year-old son with his bright blue iPad and headphones.  He was watching a Pokemon cartoon and was humming along to the songs.  Skipping as he went.  Ratna smiled, hugged me, and led me inside for a tour of their worship space.

It was a beautiful b…