The words stung. Rant after rant in an email from an old friend pounded at my heart. I wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come.
“What am I supposed to do? How can I respond to this angry email?” I asked my spiritual mentor.
“I want you to lament,” he replied.
“In your quiet time, follow the steps that David in the Psalms wrote about—the ones he and Jesus used to work through personal attacks.”
I leaned forward, thirsty for my mentor’s wisdom.
“A lament has three steps:
Cry out to God for help.
Then listen for God’s answer.
“In your quiet time, I want you to spill out your emotions. Tell God how angry and bitter your friend’s attack has made you. Let God have it if you need to. He’s got big shoulders. If tears come, let them flow. Let them wash the negative energy out of your body.”
I breathed a heavy sigh and filled with hope.
“Next, cry out to God for help,” my mentor continued. “Ask God to replace your anger with love. Invite the Creator to show you what you can learn from this difficulty. Pray for your friend that he will find what’s missing in his life and experience love and joy.
“Then sit, wait, and listen. Wait for the loving whisper of the Holy Spirit. It may immediately come as you bring your lament to God—or sometimes the answer—the Holy Whisper—arises later as you go about your day. Listen with your heart. Trust the Spirit to guide you.”
The next morning, I took my mentor’s advice. In my quiet time, I vented out loud to God. My anger flew out like spitballs from my mouth. I gritted my teeth. Shook my head. “How can people be so mean?” I raged.
Overcome by emotion, I wept with holy tears and sensed God crying with me. The negative emotions bottled up inside me moved down my body from my head to my heart, and out through my toes.
“Help me, God!” I pleaded from the pit of my stomach. “Tell me what you’re teaching me.”
A holy whisper swept softly through my heart. “I am teaching you the hard lessons of forgiveness and unconditional love. Your friend has been wounded by life. He’s projecting his hurt upon you.”
“What do I do?” I asked the Creator.
“Write him a love letter. Let me pen the words with you.”
It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I wanted to tell my friend he was wrong, correct his misperceptions, and email a scud missile back to him..
But, instead, God soothed my soul, calmed my ragged nerves, and helped me type the love letter the Spirit wrote upon my heart.
The letter went out. There was no response.
Over the years, I’ve heard God tell me to let it go. Walk away with love.
Whenever my friend comes to mind, I lift him up to God. And while I still have moments of feeling hurt and angry, God has given me the sweet taste of unconditional love and forgiveness.
The next time life throws a sucker punch at you, try the time-tested path of lamenting. Vent. Cry out to God for help. Then wait and listen for the Creator’s guidance.
It’s how we learn to discover forgiveness. It’s how we grow. It’s how God helps us transform our anger into love.
—brian j plachta
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“Doable Spiritual Practices
“While there’s not a switch that clicks off fear, I learned there are a number of doable spiritual practices we can adopt as a doorway into a deeper experience of God. These practices direct our focus away from fear, toward its antidote: love.
“Our spiritual practices quiet our mind chatter, open our hearts, and refocus our attention inward, so we can receive whatever God wishes to offer us. We get into the flow of divine wisdom.
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