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?