For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Harsh words are exchanged. Frustrations mount. A door is slammed! Paste this passage from Romans on your bathroom mirror. It accurately describes what happens when I lose my temper and injure a relationship … long-standing or brand new. As I begin to cool down, I say to myself: “What was I thinking?” “If only I could take back those words.” But of course the damage is done.
Paul accurately describes that interior battle between how I want to act and how I actually respond, especially in moments of high emotion. It is that inner struggle between emotion and reason that I need to own and manage. I need to develop a strategy for cooling my jets, for calming my emotions. I need to step back, take a deep breath, and still my beating heart. I need a “time out!”
Perhaps this is a good day to reflect on the situation Paul describes. How do I respond when my emotions go crazy? Take some time today to make a plan, to rehearse some words to use when I “lose it.” Open your mind and your heart to God in peace. Listen and speak!
—The Jesuit prayer team from the Jesuit Community at St. Camillus in Wauwatosa, WI.
You are near, the God I seek.
Nothing can take me from your side.
All my days I rest secure;
you will show me the path that leads to life.
—Francis Patrick O’Brien, “You Are All We Have,” ©1992, GIA Publications, Inc.