I spent an hour on the Internet today reading about Bobbi Kristina Brown, hoping to get an update on her medical condition. I’ll have to admit, I wasn’t prepared to see the pride, arrogance, and judgment directed toward her and her family. I sat stunned for a few moments. And then I wept.
The same way I’ve wept for judgment brought against ministry leaders and their families who haven’t healed from grief according to others’ expectations or for spouses who have been vilified and shunned for their partner’s sins. Or for the voice inside all of us that tells us that we are not among the worst of sinners, like the rest of the world.
The acid I’ve seen spewed reminds me of myself.
Just this morning my husband Dan extended grace to me when he tried to help me find something I’d misplaced. In my frustration, I offered him a sarcastic tone and a condescending attitude. I’ve doled out that tone and that condescension for years, along with disdainful body language and disrespectful jibes. Until I learned to listen to the self-talk inside my head and my sinful, arrogant rationalization a few years ago, I was callous to my egotistical pride.
I wanted to tell myself that I’m entitled to a “pass” because I’ve been living for three months with an undiagnosed lesion in my brain stem. But the truth is that my illness does not overrule my freedom of choice. And it does not overrule my ability to respond to the prodding of the Holy Spirit to repent.
For thirty years, I ground my husband (and children and others) underfoot and dismissed it as humor, a strong spirit, or my “Burke” personality.
But beneath the veneer of my self-talk, I was really wrestling with my own pride at the expense of the dignity and honor of those I claimed to love.
In the past few years, God has helped me recognize the true motive that often drives me–pushing people behind me for the satisfaction of placing myself first.
I waited on pins and needles the rest of the day for Dan to come home so I could apologize for my biting spirit.
On March 17, Focus on the Family will re-air an interview on my book The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk. It’s a book that rose from the tempest of my long struggle with ungodly self-talk–a struggle I see reflected every day in people around me.
We rationalize our lust for power.
We jockey for position ahead of others We promote our personal agendas and self-interests. We run through life ripping dignity from the hands of others in order to make ourselves feel good. And we rationalize our behavior.
We’re tired. We’re frustrated. We’re fed up. Life stinks. People disappoint us.
We think we’re entitled to a little attitude now and then.
A little snarling, a little condescension, a few racial slurs, a little sexism, some eye-rolling and arm-crossing when it comes to people who are different than we are. We’re not expected to be perfect, after all.
Not perfect–just called.
We’re called to love God with all our hearts, souls and minds, and to love people as ourselves out of the overflow of God’s abundant love.
We’re called to love as Jesus loved–in word and deed, even when it costs us.
We’re called to love in word and deed when we’re tired. When we’re frustrated. When life stinks. When people disappoint us. To lift others up and place them first. To take our place at the end of the line. We’re called to dig deep and examine our motives before before we open our mouths.
For me, that means a lot of heartwork before my feet even hit the floor in the morning.
So, world, forgive those of us who aren’t loving you well in the pain you’re experiencing right now.
Life is a daily battle to live out the gospel in word and deed as we love others.
It’s about laying down our lives in gratitude in the shadow of the cross.