Temperament does not predestine one man to sanctity and another to reprobation. All temperaments can serve as the material for ruin or for salvation. We must learn to see that our temperament is a gift of God, a talent with which we must trade until he comes. 10

This is a Lenten discipline that may prove beyond my capacity – “We must learn to see that our temperament is a gift of God.”

Synonyms for “temperament” are: disposition, makeup, character, personality, nature, constitution.

How many years have I spent trying to change my disposition, wishing I could overcome certain qualities of my character, and get rid of a variety of aspects of my personality?

To see these things as “a gift of God” feels like a major hurdle.

But Merton insists that all this can be “the material… for salvation.” Those crazed parts of my character, those potholes in my personality are, he suggests qualities upon which I can “trade” to find the wholeness/“salvation” for which my heart yearns.

But what could it possibly mean to enter into a negotiation and “trade” with these parts of my being?

In a “trade” I enter an exchange in which I give something and receive something in return. The trick is, before I can give something, I have to truly own it. I have to welcome and embrace that quirk of my character I find so difficult to tolerate before I can truly surrender it to God and receive in return the healing that comes from true surrender.

I need to be able to see my nature as it truly is and accept those parts of myself I find dark and distasteful. I cannot make a gift of that which I have rejected in myself.

The discipline Merton points to here is the discipline of full self-disclosure and complete self-acceptance. I am this broken being. But the cracks in the vessel of my life are part of the journey that has made me the person I am today. When I accept these cracks they become the means by which the light of God’s presence is seen in my life.

What parts of my “temperament” do I have a hard time facing and accepting?

Having accepted all aspects of my “temperament” what will it take for me to lay this all down and surrender it to God?

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