Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Teach Me the Patience of [Answered and] Unanswered Prayer

i don't post about anger very often because it is an emotion i seldom experience. that may be good or not so good; sometimes i wonder, but on the whole i believe that the less we can keep from anger, the healthier and happier we are. when i went to my morning meditation, though, i was angry, so i prayed that i could set aside anger at first and concentrate on the characteristics of love, the noble eightfold path, and the four noble truths. after that part of my meditation, i returned to my anger and sought to examine it objectively. first, i realized that i was angry with the actions and speech of a friend that, while directed at me, had little to do with me. next, i thought and prayed about ways that i could replace my anger with loving actions. finally, god led me to the perspective that it's not my role to effect change in another; that's something i have to leave to god.

i have a close friend who had a terrible childhoold. the friend's father was physically and emotionally abusive, and the friend learned that the safest path was to withdraw from emotional attachment to parents, to try to stay "in the background," and to behave in ways that were least likely to arrouse anger from the father. all the while, this friend's mother, though a kind and loving person, was not the friend's protector and was ineffective in standing up for my friend's well-being.

my friend is usually a considerate and loyal ally, but from time to time old childhood resentments and angers surface, and my friend lashes out at those closest, like me. most of the time, i am able to react with understanding because i know the source of this behavior, but sometimes the remarks are so consistently cruel and belittling, that i become angry with my friend and want to return my friend's actions in kind. it was this anger that i took to my meditation, and i left that time with greater understanding, though not with freedom from my anger.

i encountered this friend shortly afterwards and had little to say, all the while listening to god saying to me that i should let god work as i waited. that was what i did. our exchanges were perfunctory--polite but cool. after about fifteen minutes, my friend walked over to me and embraced me, thanking me for being a friend and telling me of my friend's love for me. it was as if a great joy replaced my anger, and i was deeply grateful that god had given me the restraint to wait quietly rather than intervening myself in a difficult and painful situation.

as i sit writing this post, there are tears in my eyes, because a valued friendship is restored, and a prayer was answered. my prayers for each of us this day are that we remember that life is not ours to control, that to give up the desire for control is to let life happen as it should, and that the first characteristic of love is patience. prayers are not answered in our time but in the proper time. shalom.

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