Denial

2.  The Denial Of Violence

It was in a seminary lecture on violence that God spoke, quietly and clearly, “John, violence is a problem for you.  You need some help.”  I went to my professor after class and told him about some of my failures.  Later, we met and he told me to participate in an anger management group and other counseling if I wanted to continue taking classes at that school.

I was embarrassed and alarmed again.  But I followed his recommendation and began to see how my angry, vengeful violence could be changed; that, in fact, the very meaning of my violence could be changed.  The only meaning I intended was revenge, harm, or spite.  But God intervened for me (and in me) to change the meaning of my violence and bring good from it.

God used my violence to make me desperate, humble, and dependent.  He allowed me to behave violently (for a time) in order that I might see more clearly and feel more acutely the hurt and pain it caused.  He caught me in the horror of my violence and made me want to ask for, receive, and respond to help from others.  He cornered me and insisted I turn from the denial and hiding I used to maintain a façade of peace.  My admissions to the seminary professor were the first sign of a crack in that façade.

Though I usually appeared to be a non-violent person, my thoughts were prone to violent anger.  Sometimes my actions aligned with my angry thoughts and came out as violence. Only God could humble me in the right way.  My humility was often false, but his humility rang true in my heart because it was the virtuous humility of Jesus.

I titled this essay The Virtue Of Violence for that reason.  As for my humility, it is defective.  I refused to humble myself.  I lived in denial and hid my violence problem from myself and others.  But God chose to intervene for me.  He broke into my denial of violence and applied the virtuous humility of the cross-hung Jesus.  Jesus’ virtue changed the meaning of violence in my life.

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