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By Joy Wong

Once upon a time, I was good-tempered. Rarely angry, giving others the benefit of the doubt, I had an almost constant, perhaps uncanny, calm exterior. Even in the most tense of situations, people always said they could never tell if I was upset or riled up. What I showed on the outside wasn’t always what was going on inside of me, but I always withheld showing any anger until I had time to process it on my own. If deemed necessary, I would rehearse in my head how to communicate it in the most clear way, devoid of unnecessary passion, before confronting the person(s) involved.

Now fast-forward to the present: I’m now short-tempered with little to no patience. Most likely it has something to do with exhausting days of pushing my preschooler in a stroller while holding my squirming toddler in my other arm in 100 degree heat. My body’s sore, and I’m most certainly dehydrated on a daily basis. I used to be more patient with my kids’ requests, but lately I’ve been reaching my limit faster.

I recall last year seeing a mom in front of our preschool tugging a crying toddler along, and she threatened in the most mean witch-like voice, “If you don’t behave, I’m gonna drop you off at the scary Halloween store and leave you there!” after which the toddler hollered even louder (understandably). At the time, I was half-amused, half-horrified at the mom. But gosh, these days, no judgment coming from here — I totally get it.

The anger that results in such a threat comes from a parent who is so totally depleted in every way possible. Depleted from good physical health and nutrition, from meaningful relationships and community, from much-needed self-care, from the space and time to connect to God, others, and even herself. But every parent knows that it’s tough, and perhaps near impossible, to get all these things all the time. And even if you do and find yourself with a good temper, the bad tempers of the little ones around you can plummet you into a bad temper yourself all too easily.

In my failures, though, I cling all the more to the knowledge that on my own, my resources are very, very limited. Too often, I feel like a fountain run dry. My only hope is to connect to God, the constant never-ending Source of the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control that I lack in myself. As I falter and fail, I need nourishment from all these “fruits” for myself, before I can even offer any of it to my kids, much less to others around me.

Good temper? I don’t aspire to it these days. More like, I’m aspiring to give myself grace when I don’t have a good temper, so I can give that same grace to my kids and others when they don’t have one as well. But I can’t give even myself something I don’t already have. Instead, with open hands, I look to receive the grace from the One who has more than enough to give.

“but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’”– II Corinthians 12:9 NRSV

Joy Wong has an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary, a BA in English from Princeton University, as well as four years’ experience in industrial distribution management. She is a contributing author to Mirrored Reflections: Reframing Biblical Characters, published in September 2010.

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By Sharon Lee Song

What is spiritual formation? This term is thrown around in Christian circles, and yet many Christians don’t know what spiritual formation means, and why it is critical to all of us. A good working definition that I have found is from a book called Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation by Robert Mulholland. Mulholland defines spiritual formation as “the process of being formed in the image of Christ for the sake of others.” Continue Reading »

Photo by Randy Pantouw

By Joanne Moon

The collision of social media and motherhood has greatly magnified the collective privilege and the struggle, the beauty and its mess, the mundane, the terror – the terror of the mundane – of raising little children in this day in age. The flood of images and words, cutting-edge information and latest fashion all serve to establish a backdrop upon which we are invited to create meaning in our seasons of loving and living with these ever-evolving beloveds of God.

In this ongoing phenomenon, the word “temper” has become dressed almost exclusively to the behavior of a growing child in all their Instagram-worthy highs and lows. “Temper tantrum” is now a ubiquitous term that we know to roll our eyes over or nod in exasperated agreement, its vision flowing with creative juices to coin new phrases like “terrible twos”, “threenager”, “feisty four” or “fournadoes”… the possibilities are endless with your trusty Thesaurus by your side.  The short answer: temper is a monster, a beast, something to tame from inconveniencing and ruining our sovereign adult plans.

So can temper be good? What is temper – what is the nature of temper? Its broadest definition from Merriam-Webster Dictionary conveys something of a disposition, “a characteristic cast of mind or state of feeling.” It goes on to suggest a “state of feeling or frame of mind at a particular time usually dominated by a single strong emotion.” Most specifically, it is “heat of mind” or “calmness of emotion.” Spiritual and psychological literatures use the phrase “good temper” interchangeably with equanimity or level-headedness, thus adding momentum in the direction of calmness as the dictionary definition proposed.

From there, I am drawn to delve a little deeper into this virtue of good temper. What would it be to go beyond behavioral observance and outward maintenance of its looks? What would it be to peek into its inner motivation and landscape for a richer understanding of this virtue of good temper, and to embody this will of God with joy?

Both Old and New Testament tell us something about this outward appearance versus inward reality in the Christian life, this inside-outside interplay to which we ought to pay close attention. Proverbs 4:23 tells us: “[a]bove all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Jesus affirms this in Luke 6:45 by teaching that “[a] good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Scriptures like these invite us to recognize that living a virtuous life in Christ always and necessarily springs forth from the inside out in response to Christ in us, rather than as a reaction to every changing, ever-changing seasons and terrains on this journey with God.

What would it be to do the long-suffering work of cultivating a garden in our deep places, where the good fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control grow in all seasons, feeding and providing shade for others who are also facing life’s tossing and turning waves? What would it be to live from this disposition of good temper because we are always connected directly to the source of living water that never dries?

Good temper can only be sustained by this ever-present, ever-available flow of the living water. Its life-giving power does not simply restrain our beastly urges but retrains the mind and the heart and the body to respond to life’s stress from a place of abundance, not lack. In deeply honoring this connection with God as a priority, the virtue of good temper looks like spaciousness of the heart that allows me to feel all the things without fear because Holy Spirit is the one that holds space for us, having borne the weight of the shameful, condemning forces of the universe upon His own body, Christ’s body. Then, good temper is not simply a disposition we are born into by genetics or even good parenting, thus excluding many – too many in this broken world – but the result of an all-inclusive gift of spiritual rebirth by which all who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are forever connected to the Eternal God who never leaves nor forsakes us.

Practicing the virtue of good temper requires noticing. First, we must become aware of God who is always with us as revealed in Scripture. Worship, prayer, Scripture meditation, communion and fellowship with other believers surround us with the truth of who God is – that God is with us, always with us. The God who sent his only Son into this messy world full of temper tantrums and tears, He is in our midst today because those things could not drive him away in exasperation or despair; rather, God drew himself closer to us with compassion and love.

Second, Emmanuel, God with us, gives us the inspiration and the courage to participate in what He is already doing. Romans 8:1 states confidently: …”there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” God notices our feelings of inadequacy, being misunderstood, or being jealous, and is with us still, not in condemnation, but in love. We no longer have to fight ghostly apparitions that threaten our worth and demand our bow; instead, we are changed by the One who is holding them all back with a mighty arm to save us and love us and bring us back to God.

God is our reality. When we live there with God in full view, we are calmed and quieted in God’s presence. From the rising of the sun, to the setting of the same, through the nights both howling and holy, we are like a weaned child with its mother, like a good-tempered child, come what may.

Joanne Moon is a wholehearted wife and mom who is prayerfully and playfully engaging the world through conversation with God and people. She is in deep study of soul care and spiritual formation and grapples with race, disability and community as a necessary part of that conversation. She loves to write, take pictures and tell a story. She loves to look you deep in your soul and listen to yours, too. Together with her husband and three children, they are navigating the adventure that autism brings with God’s enduring companionship and the support of family and friends.

Photo by I am R.

By Jerrica KF Ching

When I first think of the word “honor,” I immediately associate it with acknowledgment and how individual actions can either acknowledge or discredit one’s self and impact one’s interactions with peers, family, and acquaintances. Continue Reading »

 

Photo by Tony Hisgett

By Melanie Mar Chow

While studying the Greek definition of the word honor —  timi — I came across an interesting discussion. A variant of the word for “honor” — philotimo — has no English meaning but in its original usage is something Greek culture values. It has influenced Greek society for over 1000 years. Continue Reading »

Photo by Giuseppe Milo

By April Yamasaki

In her article, “Rethinking Honor with Aristotle and Confucius,” May Sim compares and contrasts what the two great philosophers have to say about “honor” (The Review of Metaphysics 66, December 2012, 263-280). At the risk of oversimplifying her work, it seems that both Aristotle and Confucius understand honor in the sense of behaving honorably and in the sense of receiving honor from others. Continue Reading »

Photo by Nagesh Jayaraman

By Diana Gee

No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame. -Ps 25:3

You will increase my honor and comfort me once more.Ps 71:21

Shame. That dreaded sense of embarrassment mixed with disgust and self-loathing. Continue Reading »

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