It bothered me that I was bothered. But I think I was bothered because I could have done better. I know life is not a test, or a series of tests, rather it is a constant opportunity to practice. Still, I know I could have done better and it bothered me.
After spending most of the week attending a business conference, I took advantage of being out west to take a trip to the Grand Canyon. It never ceases to amaze me how inconsiderate people can be. They are so wrapped up in themselves that they don’t realize when and how much their actions affect others. There were a number of little things that really annoyed me on the 2-1/2 hour bus ride out to the western rim of the Grand Canyon. Here I was, blessed with the ability (means, time and opportunity) to experience one of God’s amazing creations, and I was silently fuming at my fellow passengers. While one woman did offhandedly thank me for letting her have her way, I was less than gracious; and that really started to bother me. “I shouldn’t feel this way,“ I kept telling myself, “it’s not all about me.” But the little devil on my shoulder nagged me that it was unfair for me not to have my way too.
That evening as I made my way browsing around some shops, I saw a magnet that really made me feel like I got smacked in the face. Among the tasteless quotes that were displayed was one that read, “Your beliefs do not make you a better person, your behavior does.” Ouch! It was like a beacon reminding me that I could have done better in practicing my faith. When we recite the Penitential Act at Mass, we confess to God the thoughts and the actions not taken that are less than the Catholic ideal. While I may not have been outright mean in my words or actions, the thoughts and brusqueness of my attitude should have been tempered by more compassion towards my fellow travelers. I felt like I failed, and in a way I did. But each new day gives me new opportunities to try again. After a day like that, I was wishing that acting like a Catholic was more instinct rather than thoughtful choice.
Jesus never said His way would be our natural reaction, or that we would never fail. Rather He gave us the ultimate model to follow when he said, “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” (Lk 23:34) Acknowledging our shortcomings is a step in learning to follow Jesus. Perhaps next time, I can recognize the opportunity sooner and be more mindful of practicing my faith so that I can be a better person.