The Temper Temperer

It is that time of year when we seem to receive all sorts of catalogues that cater to the whims of those looking for presents for the people who have everything.

For some reason we received the Hammacher Schlemmer Catalogue- “Guaranteeing the Best, the Only and the Unexpected for 170 years.” There is nothing for sale that I nor anyone that I know really needs, yet I still find myself perusing the pages, seeing the merchandise and thinking “that item would be interesting for ….”


What made me chuckle was the following:

The Temper Temperer: This is the personal voice muffler that stifles expressive outbursts resulting form the workplace, politics, or a sports team’s performance. Held in place over the mouth or secured behind the head via an adjustable elastic strap, the muffler provides relief from inveterate cursing at a television as well as channeled stress release after a rough day at the office when a pillow in not available. Its sound-dampening quality also makes it ideal for impromptu close-quarters usage during family gatherings when privacy is limited. One size fits all mouths. $49.99

(I wonder if they have something to prevent one’s thumbs from tweeting? - Just a thought….)

While this is humorous it does make me think of a serious matter. Being an adult and part of a civilized society doesn’t absolve someone from actually having self-control. This gadget insists that instead of controlling one’s tongue, you just need to put on your voice muffler.

Being called “a spitfire” as a child, I get it. There were many times in my childhood and youth that I could’ve used the muffler. It certainly would have avoided conflict, hurt feelings, broken relationships and my own punishments.

Hopefully I have learned and improved a little as I have aged. Taming one’s tongue is something that may get better with maturity but always needs to be in check. If not, it can create discord, chaos, broken relationships and at the extreme- destruction.

But I know that one of the promises from God is that He has sent a helper to us (Holy Spirit) that as we grow to be more and more like Him, we demonstrate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. For as much as we are in need of civility and manners, the true caring of one another cannot be done without God’s help.

In thinking over this past week’s news and the treatment of men and women, it occurs to me that if people, beginning at an early age, treat one another like they want to be treated (or how they would want a loved one treated), maybe some of this miscommunication and hurt can be avoided.

There is a reason that manners have prevailed ever since there was more than one person living in community. Manners are more than pinky-in-the-air hoity-toity-ness: at the core, manners are actions derived from thinking of other people first.

I know that I need the Helper in learning self-control and manners. Left to my own devices I would be (and am) incredibly selfish- saying whatever I want, doing whatever felt good, to whomever regardless of their feelings. I need help in being disciplined in mind, body and spirit. That discipline doesn’t necessarily mean in a punitive way but in a manner that puts me on a different path- the path to caring for one another in love. I find that I have to daily (sometimes minute-by minute) ask God for help in the moments: how to respond appropriately to an awkward conversation, what insights do I need to work with a difficult colleague, how to remain focused on the task at hand, what ways should I do to stay faithful to a goal I want to achieve, when I should speak and when do I need to listen? I find that the more I ask and stay “in touch” with God, the more He changes my mind and attitude so that I am more loving and caring for those around me.

What about you? What gets you riled up? Have you ever had consequences to your outbursts? What were they?

How is your self-control? What strategies do you do to maintain it?

How are your manners? Need a tune-up or is it automatic? How are you in putting others’ needs before yours? Are you balanced with that: not bulldozing your needs over everyone else, nor piling on everyone else’s needs so that you are immobile?

Fortunate for our wallets (not so fortunate for the catalogue company) we have a free and natural temper temperer: the Holy Spirit. It’s the original model and fits great. Guaranteed.