By Karen Martin Tichenor
Listening to the news about all the shootings across the country just last weekend, let alone all the violence, abuse and disrespect that is going on these days in our country and our community, I truly wonder, do we as a society know how to deal with our emotions in healthy ways?
In Romans 12:21 of our Bible, Paul says to the Roman community, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
To do that, to overcome evil with good, we need to be in control of our emotions not the other way around. But by reports it appears we have let our emotions be in charge.
Our behaviors say, ‘If I’m angry then I need to act it out on someone or some thing.” The bigger the anger, the bigger or more violent the act. But that is not the way of our God. It isn’t the better way.
The better way is to do what is good in the face of evil.
How do we do that?
For those of faith we pray to God for guidance, wisdom, courage and strength to do the right thing. For we believe there is One greater than ourselves that has power to save us even from ourselves.
In the courage of faith we are called to take a breath, get in touch with what we are upset about and why, reach out to God and then figure out what is an appropriate, wise response.
That may include finding a wise and trustworthy friend, counselor or spiritual leader to help process what we are feeling and help us work it through to a healthy response or resolve of the situation. It takes courage to do that work. And with God’s help we can do it. And without violence.
So when you hear someone say, “Love your neighbor,” we aren’t talking sentiment here, but a way of being.
Is that always easy to do? In truth, no.
Our neighbors are human like you and me. We all make mistakes. We aren’t perfect. Maybe we’re having a bad day and aren’t making good choices. We need good, loving neighbors to help us see what we are doing so we can take charge of ourselves once again and work toward the healing of our hearts, spirits and souls.
There is nothing sappy about Godly loving. It takes strength, courage and a creative spirit to love yourself as well as an other in all of our imperfections.
So, let’s slow down and do the hard work of identifying what we are feeling and why. Are we afraid, hurt, lonely, angry, depressed, rejected, hopeless, hopeful, at peace, curious, joyful? Why? What has happened that that is what you are feeling?
Take a breath, slow down, pray to God, talk it through with a trusted other, process it by writing in a journal. Trust that harming yourself or others is not the answer. So now, how can you find peace and make this a better world because of it?
Rev. Karen Martin Tichenor is pastor of Soldotna United Methodist Church in Soldotna.