While reading a book this morning, I had kind of an ah-ha moment. The book is about a successful author (albeit an unintentional success) who is now writing his memoirs and facing the parts of his life that he’s kept hidden for twenty years…hidden from the world as well as from himself.
He is a spiritual man who does good works, helping people in poverty make their lives better. When he’s unfairly attacked in the media, he has to figure out how to deal with the attention without harming the foundation he works for. There were things that occurred in his younger days that cause him shame…even twenty years later.
Anyhow, I haven’t finished the book and that’s not really even what this post is about. As I was reading, it struck me how we’ve all done or said things that we’re not proud of, things that we would go back and change if only it were possible. Okay, that’s nothing original, right? We’ve all had those thoughts. It’s part of growing up, part of reviewing your life, part of becoming a better person.
But what hit me between the eyes was my thought about how I tend to judge people because they fall short of their professed spiritual beliefs. As I reread that one sentence, my eyes are tingling as I try to fight back the tears. I think of my own spiritual beliefs, how I believe we should do all that we can to help those who are less fortunate, not blame them for their poverty. Or how I think we should show love and compassion to all we meet in our every day lives. And of how we shouldn’t judge others for their failings.
Do I fall short in living up to these beliefs of mine? Oh my goodness, yes, I do. Woefully short. I very rarely do any meaningful volunteer work. I often ignore the people who are standing on the corner asking for money, thinking to myself…’why don’t they get a job? I have to work every day, why can’t they? There are all kinds of places that are hiring.’ Frequently, when someone is rude to me, I don’t answer their rudeness with compassion. I often take offense, wondering why they’re treating me like that, rather than wondering what’s gone wrong in their day to cause them to feel the need to lash out at other people. And judging? Guilty. I admit it. When I hear the way people, who claim to be Christians, are hateful or spiteful or mean, I judge them…I judge them for not behaving the way I believe a Christian should behave, for falling short, for not being good enough (I was going to write the word “perfect” there, but I realized it’s not even the lack of perfection that bothers me, it’s the not being good enough.).
And yet…here I am, examining myself…finding myself guilty of the same behaviors for which I condemn others. How’s that for an ah-ha moment? Maybe it really is true that we hate in others what we hate the most in ourselves. Now the question arises…what are you going to do about it?
- On the relationship between doubt and cynicism (missiome.wordpress.com)