My pastor, Mark Winner, is one of the wisest persons I’ve ever met.
His sermon on Sunday, which was about peace, especially in the setting of family relationships, was incredibly insightful.
First, he pointed out that war and strife are not the opposite of peace; anxiety is. Having lived with anxienty for decades, I always sensed that absence of peace. But I never equated the two.
About 30 months ago, I began a long journey through the valley of deep anxiety and depression, a journey in which I ended up casting off most everything that I had worked for and held dear. This lack of peace in my life seemed incongruous with all the spritual teachings I knew, yet it was undeniable and required medication and therapy to bring under control. On good days, I begin to feel some peace, or at least imagine what it must feel like.
Pastor Winner also talked about how we can bury and disregard our feelings of resentment, anger and frustration, thus pretending that they were never there. And we can have a time of peace in our relationships by that doing that. But it’s false peace; we’re just resting in the eye of a hurricane. Eventually the the second half of the storm is going to cross over, and it will be ugly. All those suppressed emotions will come to the surface.
That’s difficult for me, because I hate strife. After all, Jesus said the peacemakers are blessed.
I’m not sure how to reconcile these points. I’ve always felt that, as a Christian, it was my duty to absorb all the strife and irritations, then pass them off on God and let him deal with those negative emotions.
But the peace never came. The anxiety just hung around.
I suspect that’s because peace is a product of joy, which is a product of love. And all my life I’ve had a lot easier time understanding the wrath and anger of God rather than the love.
Every Sunday, I go away from Cornerstone Friends Church feeling a little better about my faith, my relationship with God. I’m moving away from the wrath-and-anger model to the love-and-grace model of God. It’s a hard transition. What if the wrath-and-anger model that I’d grown up with in fundamental churches really is the right way to view God? What if all those who foolisly believe that God is loving Father rather than a ornery taskmasker are wrong and I will end up in hell, another unforgiven fool?
These are anxious times.