(This is the sixth post in our Lectio Divina Paci Lenten series. To read the introduction, click here).
READ: Philippians 4.4-8 “let your minds be filled with everything that is true”
REFLECT: When I get upset, I can’t think straight. Sometimes if I’m confronting someone or being confronted about some hurt or need, I don’t always hear clearly what is said, but my heart knows pain and interprets the words said as what I most deeply fear. And then I base my future actions and withhold myself accordingly – to protect myself.
As I began to pray this this section of Philippians 4, I was reminded of Shushaku Endo’s book Silence, where he describes the “mud swamp” of Japan – and Christianity as a Hellenistic tree that cannot thrive there as it would in its natural Mediterranean habitat. Instead, it becomes twisted and distorted into something else. (Whether that something else is “true” Christianity is another conversation.)
Sometimes when I’m upset, my mind and heart feel like a mud swamp, and words spoken when I’m in that place get twisted and take root, becoming something in my mind that was never intended. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to sift through my raging emotions, and think about what was actually said. Often enough, my emotional response, rooted in a painful experience in the past, is out of step with the current situation.
But I’m learning to be aware of how I’m feeling physically – the cloudy mind, the pounding heart – and letting those be the red flags that signal my need to pause and let my mind and body settle before jumping to conclusions.
RESPOND: God, help us to be aware of how we sometimes get carried away by our emotions. Help us to both regard them as a gift from you, and also to humble ourselves when we are upset and think we’re hearing what we’re afraid of hearing, instead of the truth of what is actually said. Guide us to your truth when we are stubbornly wading through the mud swamps of our own making.
With awareness of our tendencies and no small degree of self-compassion, we can both acknowledge that our emotions are giving us important information about ourselves, and also that those reactions are sometimes rooted in past pains rather than in the present moment. Do you recognize your own tendencies in situations like this? What helps you out of the mud swamp?
Lectio Divina Paci is a weekly devotional guide by Audrey Hindes for peacemakers in the lectio divina form. Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scripture reading, prayer, meditation, and reflection that treats scripture as the Living Word. Lectio Divina Paci is an opportunity for peacemakers to become more in tune with the voice of the Prince of Peace.