Over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed my inner fuse growing shorter.
The riots, the politics, the covid. The lack of travel and human contact simply intensifies the burn, like a magnifying glass on a sunny day.
Of course ranting, cursing, and exploding aren’t the most healthful or helpful of things. The wake of the horrific wildfires symbolizes the devastation of simply burning out of control, emotionally as well as physically.
I recently re-read a remarkable book that’s helping me lengthen instead of shorten my fuse. It’s Pierre Pradervand’s The Gentle Art of Blessing: A Simple Practice That Will Transform You and Your World.
His premise is simple. When someone mistreats you, bless them. It started for him when he was unjustly fired from his job. After living with anger toward his former employer, he decided such negativity was only hurting himself. He began developing the difficult habit of blessing the people who terminated him, wishing them the very best in all things.
His book details the fruit born in developing this life-long (and it does take a life time of work) spiritual discipline. Expressing concretely your love for your enemy makes you healthier while it may deescalate hostility, sometimes in semi-miraculous ways.
The one thing that struck me in this re-reading was his undercutting the tendency I’m good at: making snap decisions about others.
“It is impossible to bless and judge…The more we learn to bless unconditionally, the less we judge. It is an amazing inner experience. We simply let others be.” (pages 77, 79)
Isn’t judging others the chief cause of our anger? And, really, who are we to slam the gavel down so firmly? We’re frail, biased creatures reacting to words and actions of equally frail, biased creatures. Jesus, as always, was right. “Don’t judge so you won’t be judged.”
Blessing doesn’t mean not protesting. Nothing should interfere with sincere stands for justice in the face of the violence and racism we’ve seen. But it does mean not to demonize and hurt those you see on the other side. Just as you can’t bless and judge at the same time, neither can you love and curse.
Personally, in this writing, I haven’t mentioned the one person who accelerates the burning of my fuse faster than anyone.
Recently I’d started a couple of blogs with him as the subject, but scrapped them. They were just too negative. As I read and re-read them, I simply felt empty afterward. Pouring accelerant on the fuse and waiting for the bang isn’t healthy.
From now on, our president is my personal spiritual project. Whenever I read a tweet from him or an article about him, I’m going to slow down my pulse. I’ll intentionally lift up a prayer on his behalf. I’ll wish him health, happiness, and a sense of personal fulfillment. I’ll pray for his wisdom, judgment, and compassion. I’ll pray that the decisions he makes will promote the common good in ways beyond my understanding. I’ll pray for a deepening of his faith and a growth in his understanding and embodying bedrock Christian values.
This won’t necessarily make him a better person. It will make me better, though. And, in the end, I can only manage my own little station in life.
Maybe this was what Jesus was getting at when he said, “Treat people in the same way you want them to treat you.”
11 thoughts on “More Blessing, Less Cursing”
Greg: I remember being called to the hospital one night, to give the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The man who was dying was the man who killed my son. I hated him for two years, and as I sat with him, gave him the Sacrament that resentment and hate fell away. My life was changed, and that change has carried me through the years of not judging people. They all carry burdens.
Another example is a young guy of 18 called me names, spit on me, and one rainy night he came to my door, he had a high fever, and ask for help, I let him in, and took care of him for a week during high fevers, etc. and I asked him, How did u know I would not turn you away?” He said: “I counted on you, you always showed love when I was meant to you.”
My favorite quote: “The street transforms every ordinary day into a series of quick questions and every incorrect answer risks a beat down, shooting or pregnancy”. The answer is always to love without judgment each person who is hateful or violent all or struggling. river
River, thanks for sharing. I can’t imagine the experiences you describe, but you certainly express the heart and power of the gospel.
Thanks! It has been and still is a besutiful painful and a Miller journey!
Thank you Greg, as always
Greg i appreciate u. river
Thank you for this. I have been blowing my fuse for the past 4 years over Trump. After losing my father in January this year, I have been looking into my heart more than ever. He was a beautiful Christian, and I want my life to reflect more of what he taught me. I tend to forget the verse that tells me to love my enemies, and I believe that’s why Jesus emphasized it because it is easier to love the lovely. I will spend more time praying for Trump and those who are harder to love because that is what our Saviour taught us.
It is easier to “love the lovely,” isn’t it? I appreciate your sharing the challenge of blessing when your fuse has been blown!
What a wonderful lesson for all of us Pastor Greg. I never had the opportunity to share with you who I forgave. You remember the beautiful memorial you gave for our son Joe (19) who died from a drug overdose, a little over two years ago. Well shortly after his death the gentlemen (drug dealer) kept texting Joe “Hey Bro you still owe me the other half”. I knew instantly that he must be referring to the money for the drugs. Well I actually called the man since I had his number from Joe’s phone. I said “Sir you don’t know me, but I believe you know my son Joe Ross” he replied “So” I told him that I knew Joe owed him money and that Joe would have paid him back but that he died from a drug overdose. I then said “Sir I’m calling you for two reasons. One is to tell you that I live for a loving God who forgives me, so I can certainly forgive you. In fact you were just a victim of circumstance yourself. If my son hadn’t bought the drugs from you there would have been someone else he could have gone to. And sir, I don’t know what kind of home you were brought up in, maybe you were never taught about the dangers of drugs. But Joe was taught this from early on, so he knew not to do this! He made the wrong decision. So mostly I’m just calling to tell you that God forgives me, so I can certainly forgive you. And the other thing is, I doubt you’ll stop selling drugs just because we lost our son. But could you please make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. I’d hate for another family to have to go through this.”
I was so nervous and shaking through that entire call. But you know that man gave me the respect to listen to what I had to say. And to this day I still pray that he will turn his life around and turn to God. 🙏🏼
Greg, you are so wise. I am so thankful for the blessings you share with us on this site. Your message could not have a come at a better time for me. I felt like you were speaking my thoughts. I am now making the same commitment to blessing and not judging others as you have.
Love, Rita Mabrey
Thanks, Rita, for your kind words. Welcome to the ongoing journey of blessing the hard to bless!