There’s someone I need to warn you about. It’s someone who can mess your life up, sabotage you at every turn. And the biggest problem is they are completely impossible to avoid.
Last weekend my wife and I had one of those small but annoying domestic situations. We’d been away and as we got back, Louise asked if my keys were to hand. I knew where they were, I’d popped them in her make up bag so they weren’t lying around in the hotel. She said she’d taken them out and put them by my wallet. I had no memory of seeing them that day. Soon I was convinced they’d been left at the hotel. I was not happy that they’d been moved without being told this.
There were some pretty major problems with my approach to the situation:
- I’d decided that if I’d left the hotel without knowing where my keys were that wasn’t my fault.
- I’d decided to trust my memory of not seeing my keys.
- I hadn’t actually checked to see if I had picked my keys up.
Which I had.
Without it registering.
Just sort of on auto pilot.
It’s difficult isn’t it, when the realisation hits that this is the one of those situations, which is totally your fault. Normally you can share the blame just a little bit.
It’s hard when you stand stupefied by your own brainlessness and are left to straighten out the atmosphere you have needlessly created.
I’ve written about my idiocy before (1) so I’ll not repeat the help that’s available in the aftermath of that. The point, if you hadn’t guessed immediately, is that person you need to watch out for and can’t avoid is yourself.
Surely I can’t be alone in being my own worst enemy at times.
This is often then swiftly followed by being our own biggest critic.
The reason Louise and I had been away, was to go on a Care for the Family Bereaved Parents’ Weekend. During one of the talks, the speaker talked powerfully about the corrosive effects of the words – should, ought, never and always – and the way we use these words to condemn ourselves time and time again. It was heart-breaking to think of bereaved parents turning their pain inwards and finding ways to blame themselves for the loss of their child – it’s a cycle that can ruin lives.
The problem is often ourselves and the way we view ourselves so much more harshly than we ever would view others. Then, to make matters worse, from that place of self-loathing we think that we can fix ourselves. We need help to get beyond ourselves or we can just make the same mistakes on loop and hate ourselves for it.
Have you ever noticed you can’t see all of yourself? We only ever have a partial picture – to get a rounded view we need help from others.
I won’t apologise for saying certain things repeatedly through this blog because I think they’re so important – a key one of these is that we are not made to function alone and we need to reject modern day piffle about independence being a healthy goal. We have an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation – independence is not our friend, interdependence is – we need to strive for supportive, honest community.
Last weekend I met two wonderful but broken ladies. They were marked by the years of silent suffering. They had been trying to cope with their grief alone for years and years. It hadn’t worked and finally they had reached out for help. It was a privilege to see the top come off the bottle – painful but necessary so healing could begin.
We need others and we have the offer of help from God – not just in the immediacy of our idiocy but to change longer term.
People know that Christianity is about change but they think that change is about following rules and suppressing behaviour. It’s not.
Christianity is about inviting God to get to work from within us.
The book of Romans, chapter 12 has some great verses about change. In The Message Translation it says this:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
Imagine that! That we can offer our fragility and fallibility to God and he can do something with it. It’s not about being good enough. It’s not about fixing ourselves but letting our maker remake us.