This is one of those times when I really wish I hadn’t made the commitment about being transparent in this blog. I’m very ok about being transparent and real about my pain, and my times of being down and even my times of being crabby and not so nice. But it’s harder when I’m having to be honest about being really given a serious look at myself in a mirror and seeing something pretty ugly.
I have a nasty tendency toward arrogance. I tend to think I know more, can do it better, can judge how it should have been done, what it should have looked like, sounded like, how it should have been worded… What “it” is doesn’t really matter. I seem to think I am the resident expert on it.
I didn’t really realize this until very recently. This is something God has been showing me, and the hard thing is, when God needs to show you an unpleasant part of your character, there usually isn’t a fun, pleasant way to do it. What he has been doing lately is just opening my ears. Allowing me to hear what I say and how ridiculous it sounds when I presume to criticize everything from how a commercial was filmed, to how the President does his job, to what color lipstick J-Lo wears on American Idol. I always joke that if they would just ask me, they could save a lot of time and get it right. But underneath, it isn’t totally a joke. There’s a part of me that thinks that “they” should ask me – or at least that if “they” did, “they” would be a lot better off. Newscasters would have better hairdos. Billboards would look nicer. Politics would definitely run better. Churches would shape up. People’s love lives would get fixed. Children would be better behaved (never mind that mine weren’t, that’s not the point.)
I really got kind of nailed between the eyes with it this morning. I was reading a devotional book that my brother sent me. It’s a book on finding strength in difficult times and situations. It’s not hard to understand why he sent it to me right now, and it’s full of great quotes from legendary Christian authors and pastors, and wonderful scriptures, as well as the author’s own writings. But as I read, I found myself mentally critiquing the layout and format of the book itself. I didn’t like the fact that the author had chosen to put his writings on the right-hand pages, and the quotes and scriptures on the left-hand pages. Admittedly, not a traditional format, but that is what I was focused on, rather than the content and meaning of what I was reading. (Also, since I’m being brutally honest, I was also mildly looking down on his choice of font. See? Arrogant!)
I do have an ability to go into situations and see how to improve them. That is a strength that God has blessed me with, and denying it would be wrong and ungrateful. However, allowing that strength to be distorted and perverted into a critical and arrogant spirit is also wrong. I have so much to learn in this life. I know that God wants me to be giving and not just taking in, but giving out from his strength, of his message… not of my perfectionism trying to remake everything into my idea of what it should be. Or even worse, just criticizing and doing nothing.
So here I am, being transparent – saying this is what I’m hearing and learning about myself. I need to change. What I am going to try to do is look for the positive. If I do see areas in which I think I am supposed to help improve a situation, I will make sure that I am moving in the Lord’s strength and not my own. I will look for what I am supposed to learn and receive, rather than what I can critique and correct.
This isn’t going to be easy. We’re talking about changing a whole aspect of my personality here. But that’s why it’s something God does, and not me. Hallelujah for that!!
For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think.Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Romans 12:3
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Philippians 4:8 MSG
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT