When I was in college, we had to take 2 semesters of religion. At the time, I was struggling with belief/unbelief. Rather than helping me resolve my issues, the OT class just made me angrier. Many years later, I would come to understand what my questions really were, and then I could begin to work them out with God.
When I bought a new car last year, I updated by 3 years, and changed make and model. The Hyundai had more bells and whistles than the RAV4, and it was just different. Even now, I am still learning how things work. Sometimes I just want to hit the stupid dash – because I don’t want to take the time to read the book.
The same thing happens every time Microsoft updates Windows. Wow! Don’t ever ask me how I like Windows. I have hated it ever since it first appeared and I had to start teaching Delta employees how to use it. Every time MS changes it, I have to learn how new things work.
A few years ago I was reading a Kathleen Norris book recommended by a priest-friend. I got to the point that I wanted to throw the book across the room. It made me angry (i.e. I got angry.) My friend asked why hadn’t I thrown it across the room? Well, it was a good book. I enjoyed learning what Norris had to say about Monasticism. But Norris was very depressed, and I disliked where that personal problem overwhelmed sections in the book. Once I figured out what my problem was, I could deal with it. I could separate and sympathize with her depression over losing her husband. And I could enjoy the rest of the book.
True change is not always easy; for example, getting married is both joyful and stressful. Changes – and learning – stretch my mind and my spirituality. I have to engage. What I have learned is that when something makes me upset or angry, I profit by trying to understand what is going on
. Why does it make me angry? Is it that I don’t want to read the directions and learn how to use the new gadgets? Is it challenging my personal belief system? Is it challenging me to change and grow? Are there parts that don’t interest me right now, and I need to gloss over that? What I do know, at least for me, is that when I identify why I am reacting as I am, I am in a position to calm down and enjoy the experience.
I hope that we will all joyfully engage with scripture this Lent and Easter. I pray that we will be willing to let ourselves be challenged to grow spiritually, and to be transformed as a congregation.