Monday, January 20, 2020

Mirror Guilt

It's a truth that we know, but are likely to forget, and in case you thought that we came up with it in our 20th-Century 'enlightened' minds where the emphasis has been on understanding better who we are through the modern science of psychology and such, it's actually a truth that goes all the way back to Romans 2 (and even earlier than that, although Romans articulates it so well for us):

You are most likely to judge in others what you are guilty of yourself.

You would think it would be just the opposite. You would think that those things that we are prone to do ourselves are the very things we would have the most grace for in others, but that's not true. You would think that knowing what it took for us to get to that point would give us eyes to see others with compassion when they come to the same place. Brokenness isn't easy; we know that intimately from living it ourselves.

It is precisely the difficulty of brokenness, however, that gives us so little grace for it in others.

When we are broken, we know how hard we've wrestled with it. We know how hard we've struggled, how much we have tried to avoid it. We know that it comes as a last resort for most of us, as the last thing we want to be or to do. When we have exhausted all other possibilities, when we have failed in every way we can think of to try, when there's nothing left to do but give in and give up, it is only then that we become our worst selves, that we become something we often hate. Something that we know we ought not to be.

Then we look at others, and we don't think they've done the same wrestling. We don't consider that they've fought the same fight. We don't give a single thought to the idea that maybe they don't want to do this or be this, either. Rather, we look at them and think they haven't fought at all. We think they haven't tried hard enough. If they'd just try harder, they wouldn't be like this. Often, we think they've simply chosen this. That this is who they woke up this morning and wanted to be.

The audacity! After we have given everything we had to avoid such an existence, this person must just relish it!

We judge them harshly because in them, we see our own weakness, but we do not often see our own strength. We just do not see in them the fight that we put up, and it's that fight that changes everything.

What if that wasn't the case? What if, when we looked at one another, we saw the same fight we've been fighting? None of us chooses to be broken. None of us. Give us the choice, and none of us will say, "Ah, yes, I will take the broken life, please." None of us says, "Give me the hard road, the one I cannot possibly travel. Bring me the biggest enemy, the one I cannot possibly defeat." We all want to be whole; we all want to be well. We all spend our lives fighting for it, some with more success than others.

Yet, when we look at one another, none of us see the fight. None of us see the strength. None of us recognize the absolute heartache over this...over this being someone's broken life. We look at one another, shake our heads, and say, "Look at what a mess they've made of themselves. If only they had fought as hard as I have."

The irony, of course, is that if any of us had fought as hard as we claim that we have, we wouldn't be broken, either. The truth is that we've succumbed to our fight in the same way that we judge others for it. If we hadn't, we wouldn't hate them so much for reminding us of our own weakness. Our own failure. Our own inability to live the life that we tried, with everything in us, to hold onto.

Just something to think about this morning. Why does it bother you when someone else is broken in the same way you are? Is it because you don't see their fight?

What if you did?

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