Yesterday I had my nemesis yell at me again. My nemesis is a gift from God because he teaches me that God’s grace is sufficient for me. After asking some technical questions that I felt were important enough to press on, my nemesis reacted with child-like mocking and raising of the voice. After another try, he shut me down and turned his back on me. So I excused myself and told him that I was sorry he felt so bad. I don’t usually have trouble losing my cool in these moments. My trouble comes after I have been offended in such a way as it works out through my emotions.
Paul gives instruction to those living in Thessalonica (I Thess, 4:11-12). He speaks of studying to be quiet and working with your own hands. Sounds like “minding your own business.” But I don’t think that’s what it means since he wants them approaching others around them with such increasing love.
It is this point about studying to be quiet that is so meaningful to me right now. When adversity comes that causes me mere inconvenience or desperate suffering, my tendency is to grab control wherever I can find it. I often find control in reasoning, talking, and posing. (1) Reasoning (shallow as it is) in that I find myself a victim to the circumstance and that I deserve better. (2) Talking to someone else to share my unfortunate circumstance in a way that (3) poses as if I am virtuous and humble despite the unjustness of it all. But this silly automated process wastes the opportunity to grow in quietness. For the goal of my life to minimize pain is reflexive and unconscious and temporal, but the surrendering of each tweak to my soul in quietness brings peace and lasting satisfaction of character – quiet inner strength.
The word strikes me (literally “to be being quiet”) as a surrender term, It means that I should be learning to let go of the fixes for feelings. I’ve learned this in the past about anxiety as well. So here are some of the personal feelings that I have to which quieting applies as learning to surrender to Jesus and this grow in my inner spiritual strength.
1. Anxiety or discouragement
2. Receiving an offense or act of disrespect
3. Feeling of having been misunderstood
4. Feeling that something I have to say that is important is not being heard
5. Feeling of having been judged unfairly
6. Receiving an act of disrespect that inconveniences me
7. Suffering a clear double standard
So I have known this about anxiety, and now I generalize the course that I should take in my quietness: First thank God and second to let the adversity have it’s full effect. Adversity can have wonderful effect by detaching me from false gods that are my temporal dependencies of the soul. I can enjoy the detachment just as if I jumped off the side of the pool into my Father’s arms learning to swim.
The quietness is not passive, but strength moving forward toward working with my own hands – being productive and serving which really means loving actively. The detachment from the worldly concern can free me to love well if I let the two results work synergistically. Adversity is more practice that builds this healthy pattern in my life where I depend on God and love well.