As Michael has pointed out to me on various occasions, I get angry quite easily. In a world where so much doesn't go according to plan and I'm constantly faced with cultural difference and other stresses, it's neither terribly difficult nor particularly advantageous to lose my calm. I'm always getting stuck in thought patterns of "I'm not organized enough. I don't speak well enough. I don't discipline well enough. I don't care enough. I care too much." And the language I use on myself I invariably turn against other people. I don't think it's possible to be kind to others if I'm not always practicing by being kind to myself. And then, to top it off, I start needing other people to reassure me that I'm good enough, even though I don't have the strength of mind to reassure them that they are good people.
I was stuck pretty fiercely in these destructive patterns last week, until one of my Maureen Courtney 6th grade students' reflections surfaced abruptly in my head. I was teaching them about the road to Emmaus, and the assignment was to write or draw about a time when they felt like Jesus was with them. One of them wrote:
"I find Jesus through myself. When I'm feeling sad, I begin to think with lots of hate about the person that made me feel that way. Then I start to think about all the good things that [God?] does for us and then I calm down. I begin to think about what happened and I realize that it was Jesus that helped me calm down."
Destructive lines of thinking are insanely powerful. God's power is stronger. It's electric, even in its gentlest trace.