Rich was disappointed in himself. He had done it again! He had given in to his anger and said some terrible things to his girlfriend—things that he had regretted as soon as they had come out of his mouth.
Stephanie had been upset with him because, the last time they were out, it had been at a wedding reception, he had had way too much to drink, and she did not feel comfortable riding home in the car with him. And when Rich denied all of this and had gone through his litany of blaming everyone else for everything, she called him on it and said he should stop making excuses and take responsibility for his own actions, that maybe he needed some help.
Rich didn’t like to be confronted with his weaknesses, and really said some mean things to her in response that had nothing to do with the conversation that they were having. Rich was trying to turn the tables on Stephanie and making it all her problem as a way to take the pressure off himself.
Rich wasn’t sure where he had learned to respond the way that he did—with all this anger, denial and defensiveness. Maybe it was something that went back to growing up at home. His mother had been a “pull no punches” kind of person who, although she often spoke the truth, would say things in a way that was very blunt and sometimes hard to take.
After the latest incident with Stephanie, Rich was with his good friend Bill. Rich shared with Bill what had happened and how he was so annoyed with himself for what had happened and how he had responded to Stephanie. Bill told Rich not to allow himself to be discouraged. He said that Rich should see this past experience as an opportunity to become a better person—that somehow God was using this incident as a way to make Rich aware of his weakness so that, with God’s help, he could eventually be freed of this and become a more patient and understanding person—first with himself and then with others. He would eventually learn that God was calling him to put away his old self and become the person God wanted him to be. And maybe he did have to look at his drinking in social settings with more honesty.
We hear St. Paul say to us that we must not lose sight of where we have been and what we have learned from our previous experiences—we must not fall back in to the old ways, that “you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted with deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way…”
Old habits are tough to break, and acknowledging that we need help can be very difficult. We all know that to be very true! We can’t accomplish this on our own. But with God’s help each day, we are able to somehow get beyond ourselves. This means that we have to stay connected to Christ all the time, and not just when we need something. What does Jesus say, “You were looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled…” In other words, you only turn to me when you need something. This is not a bad thing, but the more we see how Jesus responds to us, the more we pray whether we are at the moment in need of something or not.
In the end, we see how God took care of his people the Israelites and how we are provided for as well. We are given the Eucharist, the very presence of Christ to sustain us and encourage us in our weakness and struggle.