A few weeks ago, I found myself in a situation where I was angry and hurt. It was as if I were about to explode. I did not want to lash out; but how could I help it, when anger was all I was feeling?
Upon some reflection, I felt the need to pray and, fortunately, was able to find a private space to do just that. However, even as I asked the Lord to take the anger away, it seemed as if it was intensifying. Why? Why was it getting worse? Suddenly, I realized that I was holding tightly to the anger, and as much as I wanted to defuse it, I kept focusing on it. The more I thought about how angry I was, the angrier I got.
A colleague once shared that in times of work trials he says to himself, “Exhale stress; breathe in peace.” I tried his advice, asking Jesus for His peace with each in breath. But to breathe out the anger, I had to let it go. I had to forgive, even in the midst of my hurt. I felt it wasn’t fair that I was hurting, but anger was not going to make me feel any better. I had to mentally acknowledge that while I felt hurt, I needed to forgive and not hold the person’s actions against them. So with each breath out, I would think forgiveness and with each breath in, I would think of Christ’s peace.
Focusing on such an involuntary action as breathing helped me to begin to relax. Listening to the rush of air go out, it almost sounded angry. Each breath in barely made a sound, yet I could feel it fill my lungs. Forgiveness….then peace.
After a few concentrated breaths, I felt I was ready to return to the situation. Yes, I was still hurt, but I no longer felt that I was going to retaliate and hurt someone else’s feelings. I was able to find the peace of Jesus through forgiveness. What a gift!