A Tool to transform Anger into Compassion
Last Sunday, I shared this method for transforming our anger into acts of compassion. Several people have found this helpful, so I thought I would share it with you.
In our scripture passage, Abraham was trying to convince God to save Sodom and Gomorra, those wicked and violent cities(Genesis 18). Our pop culture puts a lot of assumptions on what attributed the judgement of "wicked" against these cities. From the text alone, we can place the most weight on selfishness, pleasure at someone else's expense and violence expressed through hate crimes, sexual abuse and a simple lack of hospitality. In fact, Lot, one of three residents who survived, had a lot of flaws, but he seemingly earned his judgement as "righteous" through a basic extension of hospitality, similar to Rehab's protection of the spies in Jericho.
Abraham asks God, what if only 50 individuals could be counted as righteous, would you save the city?
Sure, says the manifestation of God in a human being, present and talking with Abraham.
What if only 45 are good? and so on, down to 10.
God agrees to save the city if 10 are found. Well, unfortunately, 10 were not found and the city was destroyed, but I feel like the conversation opened God's heart to save Lot and therefore the descendants of people who would become neighbors, sometimes friends and other times foes, for the descendants of Abraham.
I created this game of sorts to use your five fingers and bring yourself from a place of anger and desire for retribution to a place of hope with a desire for generosity...even if reluctant, with the strong conviction that acts of kindness breed more acts of kindness, in others and in ourselves.
So, I invite you to play the “what if?” game, in your moments of frustration and anger.
The "What-if" game
When you find yourself filled with anger, take a moment to
name five other words to describe your anger.
name four people to whom your anger is aimed.
name three beliefs which have brought you to these feelings.
hear Abraham (Sarah, Moses, Ruth, or another faith mentor for you) ask, “What if two of these beliefs were false?”
hear Jesus ask, “What if you found that none of your beliefs/preconceptions were true? How might this discovery transform your anger into compassion?” What is one simple act of kindness that you can perform in an effort to change your heart and bless your neighbor.
Holy Spirit, Breath of Life and Gravity of Love, pull us closer to you and send us out as instruments of your Peace. Amen.