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Speaking to the Soul: keeping my cool

Speaking to the Soul: keeping my cool

Psalm 39 was written, I believe, for those of us of a more…um…mercurial temperament…and for those of us who possess such a temperament, the opening line describes a scenario which is (unfortunately) the kiss of death for any hopes of holding that temper back.  Have you ever noticed that the minute we decide, “Ok, I’m going to keep my cool here,” it’s like suddenly the stars and planets aligned in such a way that it becomes impossible?For the record, we really DO try to hold it back.  Perhaps we begin to fidget.  Perhaps we get really, REALLY quiet.  Perhaps we give off that look one gets when we are trying to stave off emesis.

Yet, despite our efforts, we fail, and, at times, fail worse than miserably–and our failures are almost always pockmarked with a need for damage control later on.  The sad part is that sometimes, the damage control isn’t enough, and we end up feeling the full weight of the awkward brokenness that remains and hangs in the air, humid and sultry.  Regret pierces us through and through.  We find ourselves wishing there was a string on those volatile words that spewed from us in anger, so that we could have reeled them in before they hurt someone.  But alas, it was too late.

Yet, our Gospel reading today reminds us that Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners all the time.  It’s safe to say he also eats with those of us who have mercurial tempers.  For that matter, the Jesus who cleared the temple of profiteers and moneychangers wasn’t exactly displaying serene behavior.  The reality is, God created all of us with a dazzling spectrum of behavior.  It’s not about the mercurial person becoming less so–it’s about the focus.

Our psalmist gives us some useful guidance–to remember just how short our lives are on this planet.  It’s a wonderful litmus test for that old Twelve Step adage, “How important is it?”  Those of us who tend to be a little on the temperamental side can take it to heart.  When we put things in the larger perspective, the perspective of “Is this really important in terms of bringing God’s kingdom into the world?” our hearts seem to be able to change and our tempers become a little more fleeting.  Accepting the notion that God made us who we are for a divine purpose–even in the times we chafe under our own insecurities about ourselves and our behaviors–and putting the focus on God, rather than us, can bring surprising results.

When is a time that you tried to blot out something you didn’t like about yourself, only to discover that it was more about accepting yourself and changing your focus?

Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, is a grateful member of Trinity Episcopal Church and a postulant to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. She occasionally finds time to write about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid.

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Mark Mason

“The Jesus who cleared the temple of profiteers and moneychangers wasn’t exactly displaying serene behavior.”

“Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.”

Jesus quoted scripture often. In context, it wasn’t just profiteers and moneychangers that he was driving from the temple. The priest were well aware of the scripture. Not exactly serene indeed!

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