Sunday, July 26, 2009

The death of self

I have been working on killing off an aspect of myself, my tendency to become very angry and impatient. This is a trait I got from my dad -- or perhaps both my parents. It made it so difficult to be a good parent, and I have really struggled with getting angry with my children and taking it out in an unfair way. I don't know how permanent a mark has been made on them by this trait, or whether it is also genetic and they are doomed to have it too. I have noticed A1 (my first son) really struggle to control his anger at times.

Really, explosive anger makes it hard to have high quality, close relationships of any kind.

There was a recent Lent when I gave up getting angry at my hubby, Dwaine. Every so often in life, we are asked to leave behind an aspect of the self that is getting in the way of spiritual progress. This was the personality trait I identified as the biggest problem, and I think that being in prayer about my life helped figure it out. Still, killing it -- murdering, more like -- takes a long time. I don't know that I have been completely successful yet.

There is always a cost to giving up an aspect of the self. In this case, I feel less alive. A bit of deadness is inside where once there was vibrant color. But I think that is still a good thing, just a change, a mellowing that time causes. It's a little like saying, "I felt so much more alive when I was on drugs!" There was that passion, drama, the up-and-down effect that made the highs feel so great. In my case, it's leaving behind the youthful passion and mood swings to find something, hopefully, richer and deeper. (And more boring.) You see I have mixed feelings about it all. Maybe thinking of it as killing is not the best metaphor; it should be a pruning, to allow growth in a different direction. There, that sounds like a good thing.

I do think God calls us to die to some important aspects of ourselves, some things we are deeply attached to but for unhealthy reasons. I am reminded of C.S. Lewis in "The Great Divorce" describing people wanting to come into heaven with their own personal neuroses, addictions, etc., intact.

For in God, we are a new creation; the old has passed away. "You make all things new." (This is probably in the Bible somewhere, but I am thinking of the Steven Curtis Chapman song.) When I was a child, I thought like a child; but now I am a (hu)man, I have put the childish ways behind me. This said by Paul the great.

It is like "The Journey of the Magi" by who-is-that? Pause for Internet search. Sorry, I had "Gift" rather than journey; that is the lovely O Henry story. I mean the poem by T.S. Eliot. How I would love to just paste the whole thing right here, and it would vastly improve the literary quality of this little corner! I have to be satisfied with just this excerpt:
this Birth was Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death
Eliot speaks of the birth of Christ. Now, back to why does everything have to be so durn painful and sorrowful and filled with suffering??

Anyhow, there is still so much r
eading to do. I have had a copy of Dante's Inferno all summer that is untouched. I see the sources that Lewis had read, such as Milton. The great artists lift us up a wee bit closer to God.

I will see if I can attach a link to the T.S. Eliot poem. No promises!

I looked and could not find a pic of my "mad" face, or looking like a wet hen, as hubby likes to call it. What a surprise! So I posted this pic here of A1 and me looking not entirely cheerful. A picture certainly livens up a blog post.

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