This is a handwritten journal entry about my frustration with my own pride.
Just wanted to share.
I see firsthand what pride, idolatry, greed, and vanity can do to people. It causes us to (as if we are not the direct cause! how postmodern to relay the blame to external third-person lingo) manipulate a situation, to course-correct our own selfish behaviors by justifying and compensating for our angry outbursts with thousands of retcons and fanwanks and plot hole bandages, to wrestle control with stubby fingers and never admit we are wrong — as if wrongness is tantamount to losing the flag and giving up the fort. So much overblown drama would crumble if we could simply say, ‘it’s my fault” — but this is too painful for many to bear. It’s like surrendering a child to armed forces, handing over the keys and your badge and your gun — I cannot lose! I am own my own campaign manager! I refuse this inquisition of my ego!
No one enjoys frank self-awareness (everyone already hates frank — he’s never invited to cocktail parties and hipster shows) because it’s too threatening to examine the self.
Imagine those movie scenes where the hero removes a bullet from his gut with rusty forceps and a discount lamp — he has to do it or he will die, and extracting the bullet is only the first step to healing. He has to sew up, preferably with that semi-circular cat claw of a needle and fishing line. He needs Vicodin and a wide-spectrum antibiotic and bed rest and Aquafina and — you know, he should probably look for another line of work.
Everyone hates this part. Yes, it looks heroic and manly in movies. But I cringe — because I don’t think I could do it. I hate self-surgery and examining my motives and baring all before God. I’d rather dig for the bullet than dig in my heart. Physical pain is nothing like the spiritual stab of unveiling pride, dropping excuses, seeing my childish control games, and looking someone in the eyes to say, “I’m sorry and I’m wrong and please tell me how to make it right” — without adding the desperate death grip of “But.”
I don’t always know how prideful I am until I see others act out. Then I see myself in them, like a horrible ghost from future past etched into the angry wrinkles of a hologram. “This is what I what I do, too. I’m frustrated and tired and incredulous — at me.” It’s the simplest, most brutal, efficient method God can use to drop an explosive capsule of rebuke in the throat of my soul. It feels mean, God. But I understand. I am stubborn until you break my heifer neck.
In an instant, a manipulative monger goes from bully to victim, depending on convenience and the momentary choice of argument. It is either a step-up over — “Do you know who I am? How dare you insult me/ offend me / talk to me this way! You’re lucky I don’t knock you out!” — or a step-down under — “You don’t know how hard it’s been! It’s my upbringing / culture / my parents! I can’t change because of what’s been done to me.”
I understand this strange bipolar reaction to swing extremes and play both sides. But in the long-term — it can’t work. It’s not sustainable. People see through these things, but more than that, it’s a self-deception that shrinks us into a tiny demanding dissatisfied version of ourselves. It is to escape the glorious wholeness we are all seeking. It is to diminish the wonderful human depth and realness we all long for.
To meet someone where they are at, without the victim/bully-card, is so horrifyingly difficult and unpracticed that most of us don’t know where the door is. We’ve black-bagged ourselves for most of our earthly lives, have never seen our dirty face in a mirror, and can’t begin to comprehend a life of no-control and no automatic defense mechanisms. There is so much freedom on the other side, but how much we love our prisons and the comfort of four walls — safe, certain, suffocating, fatal, the Hollywood story of “taking control” and “making it on our own.” We love our Western lies and the cruel master called independence.
I can’t keep doing this. I don’t disparage those who do — but it grieves me to see someone who cannot see themselves.
It grieves me to see me in them, and I know it’s not about “us vs them” — but rather me vs. me, before God with a scalpel called the Spirit and a mirror called the Word.
It is merely morbid self-serving introspection to emphasize the struggle, I know — but it is foolish self-sabotage to never confront yourself with the honesty with which we so quickly malign others. The beam of interrogation cannot operate to capacity unless it shines both directions — and then it becomes a ray of illumination, so painful and terribly exposing; necessary.
Love the sinner, hate the sin? Let’s try, as I’ve heard recently:
Love the sinner, hate your own sin.
I still have hope for a world gone crazy, because Jesus did. He killed our pride and revoked victim-hood. He did not do one-up or one-down — he met us eye to eye without games or gimmicks or agendas. He met us with the furious force of a needle binding up our oozing mortal wounds. A fishing line called love, grace, truth, life.
Nothing else in the universe can awake us like a king on a cross.
The sin that put him there says, ‘We are wrong. We are sorry.”
And the love that put him there says, “We are whole. We are free.”
I repent of my weapons. I am disarmed. I am not in control.
I never was. He is. To live in the grace —
I declare war on myself, which has already been won.