“Temper is a weapon that we hold by the blade.”
James Matthew Barrie (Scottish Dramatist and Novelist best known as the creator of Peter Pan, 1860-1937)
One of the best ways that I know of truly embarrassing yourself is by losing your temper in front of other people. Let us, for conversation and speculation’s sake, say that yesterday was such a day for me. Let us suppose that I lost my temper. Let us suppose that I lost it royally and spectacularly. I had gone past irritated and into full rage. It was the kind of rage that pulses in your head and face and makes your eyes feel like they are screaming. Its when you are so in the sway of your emotions that you are irrational, often incoherent, and completely unpredictable. Yeah, that kind of temper. Another way to put it would be to say that I threw a spoiled brat temper tantrum, as an adult, which is simply inexcusable.
In our lives, we have countless opportunities to prove to the world and ourselves exactly what kind of person we really are on the inside. I have a bad temper. I usually do my best to avoid confrontation of any kind, because I carry a vague recollection of this fiend that lurks inside of me. I can actually brag slightly and say that I have gotten much better at keeping my temper in check than I used to be. There are times, though, when the demon of temper is able to wrestle free and the eruption of venom that is poured out as a result is stomach turning.
“Irritability is immaturity of character. If you are subject to being cross and unpleasant with others for no apparent reason, you need to come face-to-face with the fact that you are thinking too much of yourself. After all, your feelings are not the most important things in this world.” Anon.
It’s not like I have never had a temper tantrum. I was a child. I was, and am I have to admit, fairly selfish and self-centered. We’re all wired this way. It is as common in humankind as it is undesirable. Its one of those things that the most successful in life have learned to overcome, for the most part. In fact, the people I think of as absolutely classy and “together” do not lose their temper in front of other people on even a semi-regular basis.
Temper, naturally, is not the only short-coming that can embarrass us when on public display. Greed, jealousy, gluttony, pettiness, lying: you know, those things we’re supposed to be over and done with as mature adults; these things can ruin our self-satisfied lives. Any one of these things is the elephant in the room when your boss goes off on a tirade and doesn’t apologize, when your spouse spends a little too much at the store and tries to hide it, when someone drives into the parking lot in a new car and the heads of others turn and whisper. Of course other people may be guilty of these things, but never us, right?
“To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others”
Hindu Prince Gautama Siddhartha (Founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)
I have never known, or even known of, someone who had attained perfection. In fact, for all our days, however many there may be, we will be beset by failings that will continually humble and abase us. Additionally, the more we fight against the truth of this, the more we will be detoured back again around the same old movie loop of embarrassment, hurt, and eventually ruin. Whether or not we may consider ourselves a “quick study”, the majority of human beings are exceedingly slow when it comes to learning hard life lessons.
Thankfully, for all our sakes, there are endless opportunities for us to behave in increasingly mature ways as we overcome the barriers that have held us back from being truly trustworthy, humane, and happy. Thankfully, there is One with forbearance almost as infinite as He is; and above all else, He wishes for us to be the best that we can be. So sit up, back there, and pay attention! Your next test of character is not far away.
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Romans 7 : 15-25