We’ve all been there.
Someone cuts you off in traffic and almost causes an accident. Irresponsible fool.
You can’t walk your dog at the local park because there are ten off-leash dogs even though the sign clearly forbids it. Lazy, arrogant jerks.
A coworker steals your idea and wins the praise of your boss and colleagues. So unfair.
At these moments, or even hours later, does your imagination ever go into overdrive? You relive the situation, only this time you say what’s on your mind. You tell that person off with righteous indignation, and you usually do it with the perfect zinger.
I’m going to suggest something so radical that you will only be able to do it with the help of the Trinity, the guidance of your guardian angel, and the intercessory prayers of the Blessed Mother. I’m going to suggest you just let it go.
I don’t have to tell you what rehashing hurts does to you physically. You can feel it. Quickened breaths and pounding heartbeat. The flush of heat. You may even sweat. This is bad, but what’s worse is what holding on to anger does to you spiritually.
The enemy loves to plant images into our imaginations to inflame us. He’s watching, and he knows just what will set us off. When we indulge in reliving our anger, we are giving our yes to Satan and our no to God.
Jesus says, “Love your enemy.”
The devil says, “Hold on to your anger, pass judgment, and plan your retribution.”
You may think you are engaging in harmless fantasy as a coping mechanism, but let me ask you this. When you feed your emotions this way, do you find peace? Does your heart overflow with the love of Christ? Do you feel closer to God?
We develop the virtues through practice. That’s how we develop the anti-virtues as well. They both become habits, and those habits will infuse our interactions with others.
So, what can you do? Annoying people aren’t going anywhere. There are three practical steps you can take.
Walk away. If there is something hurtful or irritating on the internet, close the page. Don’t go to sites that indulge in flaming, which is angry rhetoric. Debate can be a wonderful tool, but shouting matches and cruel words do not make a debate. Walk away from the situation if you can.
Sing. That’s right. Just start singing praises to God. Praise him that you have food readily available at the end of the drive through. Praise Him that you live in a neighborhood that has a park instead of a war-torn cement lot. Praise Him that you have a job. The shift in your mind, body and soul will be immediate. It doesn’t matter if you’re so tone-deaf that the United Nations has passed a resolution banning you from singing in the shower. Just go for it. God loves it, and He will reward you with peace.
Pray. Specifically, say a prayer for the person causing your anger. You will find that it’s difficult to hate someone you are praying for. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus told us to love our enemies, and what could be more loving than to pray for them. Not that they “get it together”, but call down God’s blessings on them.
How does this tie into evangelization ? ? ? ?
Nobody is attracted to negativity and rage, and that includes the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit converts hearts, without him, there is no evangelization.
And people are watching.
When I first heard the call to return to the Church, I attended Mass in spurts without making a commitment. Ultimately, I decided to go all or nothing, and I jumped into regular Mass attendance, spiritual reading, and prayer. I didn’t realize that my husband was observing my struggle, waiting to see if I really meant it. My commitment eventually made him receptive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and he returned to the Church as well. My husband was watching.
It will be difficult. I struggle with this every day. I’ve recently asked Jesus, Mary, and my guardian angel to make me aware of what I’m doing in these moments. To not allow me to get carried away. I’m praying that they help me to let it go.