I once had a coworker who was nearly impossible to work with. He was impetuous and never finished what he started and usually I or someone else would have to finish the job. He did not take criticism well; becoming childishly pouty and passively aggressive when confronted with his lack of respect for his coworkers. Nevertheless, he also had good qualities; he was often charmingly funny and entertaining and would sometimes provide breakfast for coworkers, to include the person he had been passively aggressive toward.
I am also much like my coworker, in that I sometimes lose patience with my family, friends, and coworkers. I can also be grumpy, instead of graceful when under a great deal of stress. If I chose to, I could go on and on about my own shortcomings. Aren’t we all like that, a mixed bag of positive virtues and negative emotions, the embodiment of ‘yin and yang’?
The late singer, Johnny Cash once released an album titled American Recordings. The album cover is a picture of two dogs, one dog is black with a white stripe and the other dog is white with a black stripe. In a Rolling Stone interview, Cash explained the meaning of the two dogs. “Their names are Sin and Redemption. Sin is the black one with the white stripe; Redemption is the white one with the black stripe. That’s kind of the theme of the album and for me too. When I was really bad, I was not all bad. When I was being good, I could never be all good. There would be that sinful streak going through.”
This mixture of good and bad is what the Apostle Paul was writing about in his letter to the Romans. He wondered aloud, “Does that mean I can’t even trust what is good? Is good just as dangerous as evil?” He goes on to say, ”…Yes. I am full of myself — after all I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then act another, doing the things I absolutely despise. So, if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God…is necessary…Thank God…Jesus Christ acted to set things right in this life of contradictions…” (Rom. 7:13-25 The Message)
Heavenly Creator, I want to love you with all my heart, mind and body, but I am sometimes swayed to act out through my emotions, or pulled by the temptation to do wrong. I thank you for your understanding. I thank Jesus for coming and showing that you love us even in our contradictions.
I ask you God, to give me strength to stay focused upon who you have called me to be. Yet I thank you for the grace of your love when I do not do what is right. Your love, the kind of love that Jesus shows me, allows me to love myself even when I am less than lovable and that gives me a way to understand, love and forgive my neighbor when they act in ways that make them less than lovable.