I often deal with people who have anger or resentment issues. Some are affected by the past that they cannot let go. Some are regretful of the choices that they had made. Some are resentful of the hurt or betrayal dealt upon to them. Some are unhappy and angry to embrace the imperfection, depression, an addiction, or a demon that they are still struggling with. Many told me in similar words, “Father, I don’t know why I’m angry all the time. I don’t know how to be happy. Life’s meaningless. I keep doing the same things over and over again, yet life fails me. At times, I feel like God doesn’t love me because He permits these failures to happen. I feel like going through the motions without knowing my purpose.” Even though anger, which is a raw emotion, is easy to see, its real cause is hard to identify unless the person is willing to open up, be honest, vulnerable, and transparent with themselves. Help cannot be given unless we are able to dig a little deeper and stand humbly to be able to look at ourselves as we truly are.
First, let us be honest. It is VERY HARD to be honest to ourselves, to be vulnerable with other people who might be able to help us, and be transparent with them, especially when we had been failed or hurt by others. Yet, this is exactly what the Devil wants from us, for it is his go-to method to hold us under his yoke and control! He makes us keep secrets, go through the daily redundancy, locks us into our own cynicism, and manipulates us with despair and negativities. When we do not deal with what is hurting us, we keep ourselves in our own circle of pity, which gives the Devil an upper hand. When we do not deal with the things that are enslaving and hurting us, the Devil uses that to lock us in our own created hell where there is no more hope and joy. This is the beginning of depression which leads to cynicism and insanity, trying to do the same thing over and over again, hoping for something different or better, yet still end up unhappy. The problem is often time much more than what meets the eyes! Therefore, it is important to recognize the pain and hurt that is there, especially to know that we cannot do this alone.
We are complex beings with many intricate layers that could easily be mixed and jumbled together. We might think that we can handle things by ourselves, but often times, we cannot clearly see reality as it is because we are too confused and blind-sighted by our own consciousness and even the subconscious pains that exist deep from within. The first obvious — but the hardest — step is to realize that we cannot do it ourselves and whatever is controlling and enslaving us is hurting us. We have to truly be sick and tired of being sick and tired of doing the same things over and over again! We have to be humble enough to recognize that we have a problem, courageous enough to seek help, and have faith in someone or something beyond ourselves, which in our life of faith, the Almighty Lord God. Only the infinite loving Creator can reform and recreate us anew from our own self-created afflictions, hurts, and hellish lifestyle!
Satan and his lies have control over us and the world because he uses fear to keep us under control. He uses the things of this world and its quantifiable measures of goodness to make us think that we are happy if we just have more! He uses wealth, possessions, honors, and pride to make us become egocentric and selfish as to look and care only for our own goods. Yet, this lifestyle pushes others away and isolate us from true, meaningful, nourishing, and life-giving relationships. The more we fixate ourselves on our possessions, the Devil uses them to become the focus of our lives as worldly success and its wealth become the goal and definition of self-worth. We begin to think that “I have done all these things by myself. I have built my own kingdom. Look at me!” Yet, this ‘me, myself, and I’ lifestyle and attitude will shortly end as resistance and dissatisfaction arise. Sooner or later, we will recognize that more is not always good, quantity is not always quality, and happiness is not measured by how much we have. These things do not ease our pains for I have seen plenty of people who had all those things in life, yet still very angry, unhappy, and cynical. I have seen and worked with many people who are envied by others as having it good and their lives wanted by others, yet very empty and filled with self-hatred.
When we become too self-absorbed and focused, even if one is locked in his or her own pity (for it is just another egocentric alternative), we let ourselves think that we deserve to be honored and liked by all to be loved. In this day and age, it is too easy for us to equate being liked with being loved. It is too easy for us to see our self-worth by how many likes, friends, or followers on social media or in our daily interactions. Yet, there is a big difference between likes and love! When the self becomes too absorbed, focused, and centered on itself, it becomes dissatisfactory as it creates its own divisive stance against others. It tries too hard to manipulate, control, and assert its influence over people, and it gets frustrated when what it seeks is not given to it. Hence, it creates a perfect mixture for developing frustrations, resentment, anger, and ultimately hatred (even self-loathing).
Nevertheless, the only way to save ourselves is to recognize that we cannot do it ourselves! It is very paradoxical in our postmodern, self-centered lifestyle; yet, the only way for us to save ourselves is to go beyond ourselves and seek help from the Almighty and others who are instrumental in our sobriety. In contrast with the way of the world and of the Devil, the way of the Lord is grounded in humility, knowing who we are and who we belong to without being pretentious, demanding, or expecting things to be our way. This way of life begins with a radical spiritual poverty, depending on God and His loving grace instead of the quantifiable goods of this world to be happy. It is a recognition that everything we have received, who we are and the gifts given to us, is to be shared in and through love for all. In loving Christ, we are willing to embrace the imperfections of this world without allowing them to define us or hurt us deep from within. We are even willing to bear insults and dissatisfactions from others who do not understand us and our true freedom found in loving Him. We found our satisfaction by seeking holiness through the honest, genuine, and transparent gift of ourselves to others as we point others to the One who loves them.
When we are allowing ourselves to be who we are by seeking true freedom in Christ Jesus, we become liberated from the slavery of sins, the yokes of demonic and worldly lies. The unconditional love of God received transforms us deep from within so we can selflessly love Him and serve others in true humility instead of self-centered glories or pretensions. Truly, there is a way out from our own social and worldly cynicism which locks us in our self-created hell of endless anger, resentment, and frustrations. There is a way to overcome the demonic yokes of fear by seeing ourselves as we are, honestly, genuinely, and transparently in and through the eyes of the One who created us out of love for love.
Therefore, let us ask ourselves the honest question of whether we want to be locked up in our own world or be of the Lord’s. Which one are we willing to follow and willing to give ourselves to be under? For me, there is only one — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I might fail from time to time. I might let the things of this world creep in from time to time. I might become too occupied with other things. However, as long as you and I identify our weaknesses and be honest with where we had been and where we need to be, we can always make the right choice in returning back to Him. We can always do a daily examination of conscience by being honest with ourselves: How have we seek and glorify Him today and how we have failed to humbly love Him and lovingly serve others? Let us learn to return to Him as soon as we have strayed away. Let us make the daily commitment to overcome our fears and to be able to see ourselves as we truly are in Him and through His love… one step at a time with tenacity and perseverance, with humility, honesty, and transparency.