For regular readers of this blog, the weekly “F.U.N. Quotient” is taking a little break for Lent. It will return in the Easter season. Fridays, being the day Christ died on the Cross, begs for my attempt at solemnity for Lent. So for the next several Fridays in Lent, I’d like to deal with the splinters of trouble, heartache, and fear, and how our sufferings really do offer a way toward redemption.
When I was a young girl, I heard a poem about how each of our own trials were like splinters from the Cross of Christ. In the years hence, that image about the splinters stayed with me.
Here’s the poem… It’s a little schmaltzy, its not Tennyson or Byron or Keats, but it gets the job done.
Splinter from the Cross
Little headaches, little heartaches
Little griefs of every day.
Little trials and vexations,
How they throng around our way!
One great cross, immense and heavy,
so it seems to our weak will,
Might be borne with resignation,
But these many small ones kill.
Yet all life is formed of small things,
Little leaves, make up the trees,
Many tiny drops of water
Blending, make the mighty seas.
Let us not then by impatience
Mar the beauty of the whole,
But for love of Jesus bear all
In the silence of our soul.
Asking Him for grace sufficient
To sustain us through each loss,
And to treasure each small offering
As a splinter from His Cross.
– Author Unknown –
While I love the spiritual life, the truth is, the more I know, the more I don’t know. Another way to say it is, the closer I come to Christ, the more I’m stripped down to the basics more and more. The call to holiness for me often comes down to dealing with these little trials each day… little headaches, heartaches, and vexations.
Isn’t that just a lovely way of describing the things that really piss me off?
I’ve had a quick temper my whole life. And learning to not fly off the handle, forgive the archaic cliché, has been one of my biggest life lessons. If there has been one consistent area of sin for me, it has been that. Trying to tame the tongue that goes with it has also been a challenge.
What I’ve learned over the years is that I need to lower the set point for my anger. Just as we work to slowly lower the set point of weight gain, we can slowly lower the trigger points for anger. Like weight loss that comes from finding a good balance between less caloric intake and adding more exercise, reducing the anger in my life came from finding the balance between taking in less anger, or avoiding the near occasion to sin with anger, and adding more joy and laughter… such as raising the fun quotient, looking to the blessings and good things in life, and having people in my life who help me “lighten up” when my somber moods and seriousness get in high gear. I can’t change my temperament that tends toward the serious side of life, but I can change how I cope with it. That’s where the grace comes in, to help make those adjustments and course corrections. I may still be bent toward anger, but I don’t have to sin toward anger. Being tempted to anger is not the sin, only the harmful actions of anger are.
So I’ve collected quite a pile of splinters that I’ve pulled from the anger years in my life. Prayer and the sacraments are still the antidote for me.