It has been humbling in recent weeks to recognize how so many individuals are incredibly self-absorbed.
My wife and I sometimes watch a television show about couples who are married at first sight. They have no knowledge of each other preceding the union of marriage. Throughout the period of several weeks, the couples go through the processes of getting to know each other, while three professionals coach them through the many ups and downs they face within that period. At the end of those weeks, the couples are faced with a decision: to stay married, or to annul through divorce.
It is interesting to watch these late-twenty and early-thirty year old people, essentially, make room for another in their personal lives. Some are very reluctant to bend. Some are very stuck in their ways. Some…well…they are so full of themselves that it seems to appear as if no one is ever going to be a part of their life.
Some of these hard-headed, stubborn, self-absorbed individuals remind me of myself in recent years, as well as current days.
There have been so many collective moments within the last several months that have shown me just how destructive it can be to one’s self when grace is not extended to others, when an unforgiving heart is hoarded, and when the focus on self is of the utmost priority. I’ll share a few personal examples.
First, I’ll talk about the hurts in my personal life, and how I have been recognizing just how hurt others obviously are when observing their actions and words.
I had a shitty childhood. It was a broken home from the time I was old enough to crawl, and the entire time I was growing up, so many ridiculous events (the events involving my parents and my poorly chosen comrades) sculpted me into a very reserved, independent and bitter kid. That foundation was the beginning of a very complicated and very unloving life. I not only had a very poor grip on the health of self-love, but also that towards others. Compassion? Very little. Looking out for my brother? No way! People were always out to hurt me (whether they were or not), and they would always (in my eyes) paint a beautiful portrait in the beginning that later turned into a kindergarten watercolor. Jaded is not even close to the descriptive measure of my resentment towards the world.
I began to recognize after the passing of my father in January of this year (which, coincidentally, occurred at the same time my mother and I could no longer communicate in a respectful manner) that my haughty ways were not of God. This specific time period really began to speak volumes to me. When it pertained to being proud and making excuses for myself to stay that way, the veil that hung in front of my blinded eyes was being lifted at this time. Through very focused introspect, tons of prayer and a personal response to His voice through numerous, daily events, I began to grow in a very different direction — a somewhat, unfamiliar direction.
I have a tendency to read between the lines. I suppose the scars of my past have made me this way? Maybe it’s genetics? My father was the same way. When speaking to others and reading the words of others, I tend to look for their scars. Their bull. Their true intent. I sometimes pick up on their unwillingness to forgive others, and themselves, for the past hurts. Unfortunately, I recognize so much within those words that are spoken or written. I always have. But, I really believe the scars and these habits of my past and present were meant/are meant to bring about this current duration within my life; this place where I am able to really see just how broken everyone truly is in one way or another. Nevertheless, the evolving change that has been developing within me is the empathetic compassion I am really beginning to notice and accept into this beaten heart of mine. It’s new. It’s humbling. It’s positive. It is definitely a budding fruit that will continue to grow in the Lord’s time and way…
and I’m all for it!
As I observe others, I am really trying to focus less on their need to be right, their arrogance, their prideful ways and their utter ridiculousness, and know that something, somewhere along the way, made them the way that they are. I am really trying to see those many scars that are so deeply embedded within their existence in the same light as my own scars. We all have them. We all deal with them in different ways. Yes, people hurt others because they, themselves, are hurt. My job, however, is to do what Jesus had said to the Pharisee…
Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matt. 22:35-40
That’s what we are to do.
As I read on, speak to the scorned, encounter the inconsiderate and arrogant, and as I see the prideful man with all of the answers surround himself with the proud, and as I continuously grow in the new way of empathetic humility, I will seek His way over my own. Lord knows it is easier said than done, but all things are possible through Him (Phil.4:13).