I was so mad.
You see, I had bought myself a small tub of Fluff — you know, that sticky, sweet marshmallowy cream that, along with peanut butter, makes the perfect Fluffernutter but even better eaten with a spoon right out of the container. And I was really looking forward to a few spoonfuls after dinner the other night. But when I went to the pantry to retrieve my sweet treat, reaching far behind the jars of spaghetti sauce, boxes of pasta, and an errant can of sardines in mustard, I was flabbergasted to find an empty container.
I try hard not to not let little things get to me, but it seems that it is exactly those little things that get to me the most. Recently my car just completely shut off in the middle of evening rush-hour traffic. I had to push it to the side of the road, call a tow truck, and deal with the unexpected mechanic bill. Yet, I did not rant nor did I rave. In fact, my reaction was a calm assurance that this will be handled, and we will get through it. But touch the Fluff I had been so looking forward to, and I feel like blowing my top!
I have never considered myself as someone who has a bad temper. In fact, I would consider myself rather easy going — that is, until some afternoons when I walk in from work to see the aftermath of the kids’ after school snack that has turned into piles of cups and wrappers and paper towels and smears of restaurant proportions.
Or just minutes after scrubbing down the bathroom and there are suddenly big blobs of blue toothpaste splattered all over the sink, the wall, the floor, the toilet (???!!!) resembling the aftermath of a periodontic massacre.
Or one of those rare moments when I get to sit down and deflate on the couch in front of the television and only the remote to the DVD player can be found which is absolutely no use whatsoever to me! So I spend the next 15 minutes searching the cushions of the living room furniture only to get more upset because within those comfy crevices are an array of small toys, cell phone chargers, pens, one very short pencil, some loose change, small kitchen appliances — everything but the remote for the TV!
Like I said, I have never considered myself as someone who has a bad temper. It’s just that sometimes, in spite of myself, I get angry.
The good ol’ Baltimore Catechism calls anger “an excessive emotion of the mind excited against any person or thing, or it is an excessive desire for revenge.” Now, I wouldn’t classify my emotion — anger — as excessive; it’s more of an implosion than an explosion for me, hurting only myself. And I certainly do not plot revenge against my own children — unless you include taking all the batteries out of the remotes once I do find them. (That’ll teach ’em!).
But I do recognize that, as the Baltimore Catechism teaches, “anger begets in our souls impatience, hatred, irreverence, and too often the habit of cursing” and thus, sin.
All too often we do not fall or stumble or slip or tumble into sin. More often, in spite of our best intentions, we let our emotions get the best of us, and we stroll right in.
Even though I know that Jesus suffered and died for me, even though I know that he did so for my salvation, even though I know I am on a path to eternal life with him, I still, from time to time, seem to set a cobblestone on that road to elsewhere.
In spite of my belief, in spite of my petitions, in spite of my contrition, in spite of my own best efforts, I sin; I knowingly lay another cobblestone in a direction I do not want to go in.
With each cobblestone I lay is another flesh-
ripping lash, another push or prod, another strike at the nails to his hands and feet. I know that for every one of my sins, Jesus has paid the painful price, and yet, I sin again.
So I try not to get mad. I try to recognize the moment I feel a swelling of that negative emotion welling up. Even more, I try to not even have a welling up of anger, to let the small stuff pass by. However, I realize this is nothing I can do alone.
Fortunately, I’m not alone. With Jesus as savior and the graces of reconciliation, my sins are forgiven as I incessantly labor, with the help of his grace, to sin no more, to avoid near occasions of sin.
Dean P. Johnson teaches English in Camden and is a member of Mary Mother of Mercy Parish, Glassboro.