Blessed are the Peacemakers

. . . for they shall be called the children of God.”  That is from the beatitudes found in the Sermon on the Mount, and peace-making has been on my mind a lot lately. Perhaps, this is because I havn’t been feeling at all peaceful. I’d hate to think that it was only the peacemakers who would be called the children of God. That would probably exclude me.

    I thought about calling this blog “Doin’ Crazy No More.” That he wasn’t doin’ crazy any longer was the signature line from Pastor Joel’s sermon two weeks ago. I wasn’t entirely sure what he meant by that. Someone thought it had to do with avoiding talk radio–that medium which seems to get progressively more extreme and stridently hateful. I thought pastor Joel’s sermon was a bit confusing but given the immense stress he’s been under with the death of his grand daughter I’m inclined to give him a pass on not being completely coherent.

    This week’s sermon clarified his message somewhat. Pastor Joel seems to be saying that we should avoid angry people with closed minds. There are simply people who are not open to the Good News and we should “shake the dust off our feet” as we leave their vicinity. I gathered that by indulging them, or trying to communicate with them, that we are “doin’ crazy” too. 

     Anger is an addiction. There are rage-aholics. You can see them getting high on their unrestrained anger–all the juices flowing, particularly norepinehrine and dopamine. And like any addiction it takes more and more to get high. I think that’s why the level of civility in this country keeps falling–there are so many provocative issues to rachet up and get one off and flying. Also, one of the things that anger does is protect us from getting depressed. Many people would rather be angry than depressed. Anger gives people a false sense of control and therfore they don’t feel like so much like a victim. 

     Pastor Joel spelled out three types of “crazy” people to avoid: (1) the self-protective, (2) the self-sufficient and (3) the self-righteous.  These close minded people want to argue and in the process infect you with their level of anger (or craziness), and so avoiding them is generally excellent advice.

     I kind of react to the term “crazy” and I’d have felt better if he had just said to avoid angry people. I had a bipolar mother who had many hospitalizations. At times she was completely psychotic. Also, some of my friends and family are probably diagnosable, and so at times the word “crazy” to me is as objectionable as the so called N-word is to blacks. But I’ve used that term myself and so I’ll give Pastor Joel some more grace on mis-labling angry people as crazy.

    I’ve taught classes on anger management and so I know a little about the topic. Some of the sources of anger: (1) chemical imbalance – lack of the same neurotransmitter (serotonin) that underlies depression also accounts for much of the problem with anger, (2) frustration – being unable to get our needs met or to cope with some situation, and (3) anger communicated to us – much like a virus spreading the flu and or a cold. Considerable  anger in adults is acquired in childhood via physical and verbal abuse. (4)  unwillingness to face and accept having little or no control in one’s life. 

    Its the very frustrated folks in the last category that fascinate me the most. They are the ones who call talk radio and rant on and on about the world going to hell in a handbasket. It is, of course.  But their outrage doesn’t change that fact. To me it all boils down to their unwillingness to accept reality as it is. Someone pointed out that Jesus changed reality by accepting it for what it was–He surely changed reality by changing our acceptance of it. Accepting that our lives are out of control (unmanageble) is the first step in all 12-step programs modeled on AA. When we accept that we’re not God, and that reality won’t conform to our desires, then we are on the way to recovery.

    Many years ago my mother had another elderly friend who was a member of a chorale group called “The Sunshine Singers.” They were all old folks and they gave several concerts a year. Somewhat unenthusiastically, I took my mother to one at Stetson University. The 50 or so seniors marched in wearing matching outfits, the men in tuxes and the ladies in long crimson dresses. I thought this is going to be a long evening. However, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the program. The last song they did was “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” That caused me to well up. It still does.

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About diospsytrek

I am a licensed mental health counselor in Florida. I am also the author of four books. The books have to do with coping with depression and other mood disorders, and the nexus of psychological problems and spiritual warfare.
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4 Responses to Blessed are the Peacemakers

  1. Pamela Johnson says:

    I hope that it is not an oversimplification to say that angry people are just not happy. Anger is a very unpleasant emotion and I don’t believe that even those who appear chronically addicted actually “enjoy” their anger. And I don’t think that we should just “write them off.” I do believe that we need to protect ourselves from the “emotional drain” they can inflict upon us. So possibly we should think twice before considering them as “best friends” or marital partners. But we should show compassion.

    When I worked as a counselor at one of the social service agencies in town, I regularly saw a couple who both had experienced serious trauma and rejection as children. The husband frequently expressed outrage directed towards his wife, his employer, and at almost everyone who crossed his path. Then one night I was the target of a vituperative assault. He berated me for giving him bad advice, said I was the worse counselor he had ever had, etc., etc., etc.

    Normally I might have show him the door and suggested he find help elsewhere. But that night that night I was feeling exhausted from a long, hard day. So I said nothing–or about as close one can get to saying nothing. I did express sympathy with some of the difficulties he was experiencing, but nothing profound. To my surprise, his demeanor changed; he began crying and he openly expressed painful memories of his childhood.

    As the end of the hour approached, he timidly asked me if he could come back to see me again. He seemed so pathetic, so child-like. I said that, of course, he could. We said our good-byes and set up a time for the next appointment. I consulted with a colleague about this session and she felt that the experience might have been quite “healing” for him. He was so used to meeting rejection and scorn when he had showed his worst side in the past and was expecting it again. He did not know he could be loved at his very worst. She may have been right about this, maybe not. But the point was that this very angry man was just “a little boy” inside. I have seen the “little child” in angry adults when they let their guard down. They need to be loved. And they need to be loved unconditionally, even after they have shown us their most unloveable of qualities.

    Maybe unconditional love is too difficult to practice 24/7. But we might try it occasionally with an angry colleague, a difficult mother-in-law, or the next-door neighbor. I cannot promise that these people will change as soon as we would like or that they will change at all. But it is our calling to love our neighbors as ourselves. And that is how we grow in Christ.

  2. diospsytrek says:

    that’s how Jesus did it.

    • Pamela Johnson says:

      I would like to respond to the statement that Pastor Joel made regarding “shaking the dust off our feet” and moving on when meeting closed minded people. I recall an earlier sermon where he referred to our disappointments in failing to reach certain people with the “Good News.” He said “Maybe you’re not the one to convert them.” That is, your intervention may not fit God’s time frame.

      I have over the course of many years seen many proud, self-sufficient people. That is, I have seen them at one point in time. I have to say that no Bible verse is more fitting than “Pride goeth before destruction; and a haughty spirit before a fall.” And I have been amazed how such seemingly unfortunate circumstances have changed them. One of my best friends, a proud, self-sufficient woman encountered a number of financial disappointments, including being homeless. As we talked about these experiences in view of God’s plan for her life, she said “I got humble–FAST.” Over a period of several years, I saw her change from an arrogant, selfish person to one who began ministering to the poor. It was a change I had never expected. I also knew one young man hopelessly addicted to drugs, alchohol, and theft. If ever I saw a hopelessly closed-minded individual, it was he. He moved West and I didn’t see him for a number of years. One day, there was a knock at my door and there he was. He told me he had joined AA, was clean, and now a Christian. I was so flabbergasted, that I was at a loss for words. I didn’t think it to be possible. What had happened in his life to convert him, I don’t know. But he remained a new person for the last several years I had contact with him.

      None of us is in a position to “write off ” a person. When I was a student in college, my sister used to send people to convert me. They failed. She came to the conclusion my heart was hardened beyond repair. However, what people failed to do, the National Enquirer did. As I was leaving a drug store one night, I saw on the front page that people were reporting “near-death” experiences. This fascinated me so much that I bought the newspaper, the first in a long line of reading materials that led me to a total turn-around. One day, while reading in my home alone, I experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the first of many attempts to guide and comfort me.

      As Pastor Joel once said, “Maybe you’re not the one to convert someone.” Maybe it is waiting down the road with AA or The National Enquirer.” Pat Robertson once said “God will meet a person where he is at.” He gave as an example the “Three Wise Men” being guided to the manger by a star. These men were astrologers and looked to the skies for help. These were his words, not mine; so if you doubt that they were astrologers, take it up with the Reverend!

      I wish Pastor Joel would re-visit the sermon he gave about timing. I believe he would agree that no one is so hardened that he can’t change.

  3. jrust says:

    ‘Someone pointed out that Jesus changed reality by accepting it for what it was–He surely changed reality by changing our acceptance of it.’

    thank you, carl…really needed this perspective on what distracts us from peace. the plague of ‘anger’ seems to be a genetic disease in my family. i really appreciate how you pointed out all the reasons why we respond in anger. so very thankful that through Jesus, God can change our family tree.

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