Sunday, September 23, 2007

Watering the Seeds of Faith-Meekness

I'm currently on a major prayer quest to add the virtue of meekness to my life. In mid July, in the midst of yet another "I lost my temper with the kids X number of times this month" confession, I just broke down and asked my priest "what can I do about this?"

The priest said that it is not enough to just attempt to resist my ingrained "sin" pattern. Instead, I should also try to strengthen the corresponding virtue to that sin. I got the mental image of going to physical therapy. Because I am now lifting the weight of three children & have a natural tendency towards anger, I need to do some serious stomach crunches with the virtue of meekness.

Of course, I'd NEVER heard of the virtue of meekness. Who trains themselves to be meek in today's world? But after some Internet research, I stumbled onto this

valuable Beatitudes site


Now my working definition is "restraint of anger in the event of provoking circumstances." Here I am, in the midst of some very provoking circumstances and practicing trying to get a handle of that whiplash of a temper and angry tongue of mine.

I'll keep you updated on my inchworm slow progress on this matter. Here are the few pitifully slow measures I've been able to implement over the past six weeks.

-If I do insist on fighting with my husband (wrongly) over whether I, as an anemic breastfeeding mother, still have to take my yucky tasting prenatal vitamins, I can at least force myself to sit down on the floor when I hear my voice starting to rise in anger. This is my physical cue to stop arguing and start implementing meekness.

-I've discovered that praying to the child's guardian angel when a kid is on a disobedience kick really helps. This changes the discussion from "WHY AREN'T YOU LISTENING TO ME" to, "Guardian angel please help (said child) to learn skill of following directions." (As a former Protestant, I didn't even really register that kids had guardian angels until I noticed this month that their upcoming feast day is on October 2. I'm still feel pretty awkward praying to them, but am going with the mantra that practice makes perfect)

-If I'm losing the battle to control my temper, it is possible to take a break from the family, stare at a tree, and remind myself that I have just taken the Eucharist. (Done today at a Sheetz Gas Station on I-79 in the midst of a five hour car trip.)

Have you successfully conquered a frequent sin like gossip or losing your temper? Do you have any insights on the importance of meekness?

3 comments:

Alexis said...

Warning: Long comment following. I don't usually leave such long comments but this is something that is really on my heart these days.
Hi Abigail - I heard about your blog from Maria B's (ordinary time). I just wanted to say that I CAN RELATE!!! I too have serious tendencies to anger. My default emotional reaction to anything unpleasent is anger, eventually leading to a complete teary meltdown but always beginning with anger. I've been working on curbing this anger since I have experience of how destructive and completely unacceptable this behavior is as a method of parenting (and of wifeing, obviously). SO...this fall I've been doing a "daily examin" with this particular vice in mind. You can find better directions on how to do it in Fr. Dubay's book "Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer", it's the "Be Specific" section in his "Surefire Plan". But, in a nutshell...you pick a virtue you want to achieve or a vice you want to extricate from your life and you take about 5 minutes each day to examine your life looking for instances of success or failure. Take 2 minutes to think about any times that you failed over the past 24 hours in regards to anger control and then say a prayer of repentance (I use mea culpa, mea cupla, mea maxima culpa). Next take 2 minutes to think about the upcoming 24 hours and try to anticipate circumstances where you might be tried, and tempted and pray for strength and actual grace in regards to that particular sin (I use the Memorare). After a couple days you start to see patterns and being aware is a big part of the battle. Anyway - it is inch-worm progress and I'm with you on the journey. I really, really like your ideas and I'll start using those too - I know that we can save our family from living a lifetime with our anger! God bless you and your efforts.

Joshie said...

A counselor friend and I were talking about his "anger-management" clients (they were his favorite) and some of the things he did with them that seemed to help. The one that he said normally was a big help (somewhat surprisingly) is that he would have them number a page 1-10 and then put down what their #1 (being least) anger level is and an example and then their #10 level of anger which is the most upset they have ever gotten. Then they fill out the levels in between. He has observed that just the awareness of where they are in their "anger chart" helps. They can realize "I'm at a 3" and that once the anger is acknowledged and we are made aware of it- it often diminishes greatly. I relate it too eating food while watching football...if you just unconciously eat a bag of cheaps you can end up eating SO many more calories than if you had sat down at the table and had a meal.

But I do promote Alexis's items as well...the Deep Prayer/ Deep Conversion book is one of the best books ever written for spiritual growth.

Abigail said...

Alexis, awesome! I cannot wait to use your method. I'm going to my monthly confession tomorrow. I'm excited to implement some new tactics after I receive my clean slate.

Josh, thanks for seconding the "Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer" book.