Have you ever been in an argument with someone who is a master turn around artist? You know what I mean; you start to share your grievance or “concern” and as if by some dark miracle of master trickery, by the end of the conversation, they have woven a web of conversation trails that all lead back to what YOU have done wrong? As frustrating as that is, it’s not the turn around I want to talk about. However, the idea of turning our own pointing finger around, is.
When I told my husband my “word” for the year (others), he gave me a little feedback and then shared his word with me. His word was “me”. Simple. Putting the focus on himself to be the best “he” that he can be.
Not that his word is for me to judge, but that is a concept I can buy into. On that note, I dedicate this blog to him.
What if more often, when we feel the need to point out how someone else is falling short, we develop the discipline of turning the pointing finger around at ourselves… at least before, we broach the subject of their “need to change” list. I’m not claiming this is a particularly original idea, I have to give credit where credit is due. “Hypocrite, take the plank out of your own eye, then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brothers.” sound familiar? Jesus said it. Moreover, if He took the time to shape the concept into a lesson, I think it makes sense to embrace it as a practice central in relationship dynamics.
I know if I’m honest, I typically speak first, reflect later, especially when I recognize a supreme breach in someone else’s character… uh hem, they did something I didn’t like. It bugged me. It made me mad. It was wrong. It was stupid. It was selfish. It shouldn’t have happened. That gives me the right to avail them to all my corrective knowledge, right? Perhaps if I found out that I too had actually been the product of a mysterious virgin birth and in a pinch, could turn my Ozarka bottles contents into a crowd pleasing vintage vino, THEN I could get away with that. Probably not so much if I’m just pretty irritated. The funny thing is that the more I jump other people’s case for doing dumb things, the more irritated I become. It’s like a cosmic , “ I’m annoyed at everyone feedback loop” and I become the authoritative corrector of all.
Here is what I want to work on and maybe, it would be beneficial for us all to try more often; making my annoyance with others, become my cue to self reflect. We are all afraid of losing, all the time. It’s human nature and it causes us to make fear based decisions and to forcefully attempt to change other people, more aggressively than we want to change ourselves. It makes us controlling, reactionary and much less self-reflective. Yuck.
I wrote this “look at myself first” creed to help this practice to sink in more deeply:
“I will live by the law of grace. I do not behave perfectly. I will not expect from others, what I cannot give in return. When I feel angry, I will not speak. When I feel wronged, I will not assume. I will examine myself first. I will not be a hypocrite. I will not judge others for things I know I myself have done. I will not condemn or punish others for mistakes I know I have made as well. I will believe the best of others. I will openly admit my shortcomings and be humble. I will pay much more attention to what I can change within than what others could do differently, to make me happier. I will love others, encourage others and pray for others even when my instinct is to simply protect myself.”
I find it very compelling that Jesus called our faults, planks and everyone elses, specks. Fascinating. It’s as if the more we get honest and reflect on what we need to change, the less marred we view others and perhaps the less we feel they need to change and who knows??… It may just make us better at loving people and happier all around. I wonder how many marriages would be saved, friendships reconciled, family problems resolved and general forgiveness and healing would happen, if we were all more focused on fixing “me”.
I’m going to try to find out…