Constructive always, never destructive

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

We cannot deny that in our life we will always have to face challenges and difficulties, resolve certain issues, go through the unavoidable differences and conflicts among ourselves, etc. We should see to it that in all this, we always maintain a positive, hopeful and constructive attitude rather than get carried away by all kinds of negativities, just complaining, whining and fault-finding along the way.

We have to be wary of our emotions and passions that, once triggered without the guidance of reason and much less of our faith, hope and charity, can go ballistic, just inflicting harm all around. We have to learn how to control and regulate our anger and temper, and practice patience. Feeling provoked for any reason does not mean we are entitled to get mad.

The secret is, of course, to identify ourselves with Christ who, as St. Paul said, will always strengthen us such that we can do all things. (cfr. Phil 4,13) We can echo St. Paul’s words: “I have learned to be content in whatever state I am: how to be abased, how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Phil 4,11-12)

We need to process these words so that they will always be with us especially when we are severely tried and sharply provoked by some problem or issue. Other similar passages from the gospel are helpful, like Christ’s words about never to get anxious, as recorded in the Gospel of St. Matthew.

“Do not be anxious about your life,” he said, “what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air—they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?…” (6,25-26)

Again, the idea is for us to identify ourselves with Christ, to have his mind, his attitude toward anything in life. It is for us to have his spirit which he actually shares with us gratuitously, but to which we have to correspond.

He gives us the bigger and complete picture of things, reassuring us that everything will just be ok. He has taken care of everything. With him, with his love and grace, we can bear and conquer all things.

Obviously, we, like Christ, have to be ready to suffer also. He has said this very clearly. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mt 16,24)

We should really need to discipline ourselves, especially our emotions and passions, and, of course, our attitude, so that instead of just giving a knee-jerk reaction to the challenges, issues, problems and difficulties we meet in our life, usually expressed with an outburst of anger, we can easily get to see the reassuring bigger picture always painted by Christ.

We have to teach ourselves to be patient, and rather than just being restrained and moderate in our reactions, let us rev up our optimistic and cheerful selves, knowing that each challenge and difficulty brings with it some grace of God and some precious lessons for us to learn.

We should not allow ourselves to be guided only by our emotions and feelings, and not even by our more intelligent estimation of things. We have to be guided by faith, hope and charity. This is how we can see and react to things the way Christ sees and reacts to them.

Yes, we have every reason to be positive and constructive in our attitude even in the midst of the gloomiest situation we can find ourselves in. Just be with Christ. That’s the secret!