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It’s NOT about me?

What? My reaction wasn’t quite this vehement, but as I am beginning to realize, I need this reminder – often. I am certain that I have some sort of only-child complex; every time I get upset about something (which can be quite often), I just know that the other person thinks it’s because I’m an only child; I’m spoiled; I grew up with all of the attention, yada, yada, yada. And this train of thought never fails to make me even more upset, even more certain that whatever it is I’m fighting for is being ignored or rendered irrelevant.

I had a terrible day yesterday. You name it, it happened. Bombed a spanish oral final, became sick before another final presentation, argued with a roommate, started a fight (or at least opened a can of worms) with my boyfriend – let’s just say I wasn’t at the top of my game. I wasn’t even in the game. My sorority’s mission says something about a group of women “shining their lights daily on campus,” glorifying and honoring Christ in our actions. Well, I blew that one.

At the end of the day, I realized two things, both by the grace of God and the guidance of His Holy Spirit, and one through Meagan, my mentor, one of God’s favored instruments of instruction in my life. First, as I was stewing about an argument with my boyfriend, my thoughts kept spinning in familiar, frustrating circles. Have you ever been really upset by something that someone has done or is doing, but what upsets you is not however that “bad thing” is hindering their relationship with God; instead, what bothers you is how it is affecting you. In case you didn’t catch on, that hypothetical situation is my real situation. I wasn’t really concerned with any of his struggles or hardships or trials; I was concerned with how they were affecting me (although it sounds much less self-centered under my favored guise of “us”). I allowed my hurt to choke me and drown out the “noble, pure, lovely” thoughts on which I should have instead focused. I flipped all over my Bible to find some verse on how to react or behave when hurt by someone else. I didn’t find much. At least not what I thought I wanted to find. You see, there is not a lot of room for self-pity.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm  34:18

Okay, that’s nice, but it wasn’t exactly what my earthly nature wanted to hear. I searched and searched and searched, and eventually I realized that the theme I kept finding was consistent: Glory and honor belongs to God. He is above all; He is in control of all; He makes all things work together for my, for our, good. After this scriptural quest I went for a walk, and this is when I became lost in that aforementioned cyclical reflection. I was elevating the problems in my life above the problems in another’s relationship with God.

I am a very, very (wait, that’s not a word) reflective person. Every crisis I encounter, big or small, inevitably results in some new discovery about myself. (Maybe Freud would be proud of my constant analysis of my subconscious.) I realized that I am not as forgiving of a person as I sometimes like to think. In fact, I am extremely thankful that God does not forgive like I do. You see, when He forgives through His mercy and grace, as offered through Christ’s sacrifice, He has forgiven all. He has wiped out our transgressions, banishing them as far away as the east is from the west. I, however, frequently revoke forgiveness. I don’t realize this or do this intentionally. But, when confronted with another’s actions against me, I often at first have no problem giving it up to God and “forgiving”, not allowing myself to become upset. (I think that’s another problem: Just because I do not allow myself to become upset, or I drown out hurt feelings, does not mean I have forgiven, not completely.) The problem is that I let thoughts of others’ actions creep back into my mind, often in moments of weakness (which constitute about 98% of my life). In these moments of weakness, I then allow myself to stew over the hurt, the anguish, the consequences on my life. I then use my gift of rationalization to justify my reconsideration of the charges I hold and reopen against another. I do this with my boyfriend all of the time. Poor guy, somedays he just doesn’t stand a chance against my self-driven will. I am an expert at trumping up charges against him, most often in times in which I would rather not look at my own sin, my own behavior, my own standards (often characteristically double).

I discovered my apparently favored strategy: I “forgive”, but I continue to fight for the other to fully comprehend his or her actions’ effects on me. I forgive him or her for whatever it is he or she may or may not have done, but I allow bitterness to creep in if I don’t believe he or she realizes how much his or her actions or mistakes have influenced me. For example, I forgive my friend for inconsiderately changing plans on me at the last second or ditching me, but I make sure he or she realizes how much of an inconvenience that posed. I have dubbed myself the executor of guilt, and I try to make sure that he or she has received and acknowledged the full amount of guilt that he or she deserves (as determined by me). Unfortunately for my flesh, I am not the judge, and all sin is equal in God’s eyes. No human can ever fully grasp this concept, but sin is sin; it is subject to no scale or hierarchy.

What is the moral of this long, convoluted, unorganized, rambling (and likely redundant) confession? I think about myself a lot. I hold on far too tightly to my own judgments, rather than relinquishing my will, my desires, my self to the Lord and His desires for me. What will glorify Him most, my self-righteousness or His righteousness? It’s not about being right, it’s about being righteous. God calls us to be holy, as He is holy. He is our justice, our righteousness, our guidance. As Meagan reminded and encouraged me, this is not a month-by-month or week-by-week struggle. It is a moment-by-moment struggle. Only the Spirit at work in my heart can overcome, “for it is God who works in [me] to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13

Human fallibility is assured; why else does Paul remind the church that we must bear with one another?

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

We all screw up royally, and we do it much more often than we ever realize. How much better off we might be if we all remained in a state of awareness that we have blown it a lot, and we will never even know it or realize it this side of heaven. How many times have I hurt others, totally unconscious of my actions and their consequences?

The moral of this very long tale: It’s not about me, and I will never fully grasp and implement this. I’m sorry to all of you out there (and I imagine 1200 words later there are very few left). I am trying to bear with others. Please, bear with me.

A song that has been stuck in my head since all of these issues started befuddling my mind:

“Jesus Paid It All” as sung by Joe Villegas

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray;
Find in me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all;
All to him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain;
He washed it white as snow.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and thine alone
Can change the lepers’ spots
And melt the heart of stone.

And when before the throne,
I stand in him complete,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
My lips shall still repeat.

Oh praise the one, who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!

Oh praise the one, who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!

Oh praise the one, who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!


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