Sunday, January 27, 2008

"The problem is me"

I'm a little late in posting this, but wanted to relay some of the discussion my small group had on Wednesday. We began by noting the concept of loving your enemies, as outlined by Dr. Martin Luther King using Matthew 5:44-48. Without a slew of enemies in the Voldemort/Cruella DeVille sense of the word, we listed people (either specific or generic) who bothered/angered us. Here were some of the reasons why we grew angry:
  • I expect the other person to be a mind reader: Classic example -- A roommate has this terribly annoying habit. It's "so obvious" he should change his ways. Every time he does this terribly annoying habit, my frustration builds. Soon I'm treating this person differently, and why? Because he never bothered to read my mind and know how much I hate when he [insert pet peeve here].
  • It's easier to persecute someone else than to learn their story -- At one point I hated Bill O'Reilly so much that I used the word "detest", thinking "hate" was a little too commonplace and compromised the intensity of my feelings. Then I stumbled across an article giving me a little background on the man. Included were details on being physically abused by his father and info on being screwed over at several jobs before the Fox News one. Suddenly I had sympathy for the man. Ever notice how much easier it is to love (or at least understand) a person when you know their background? While it might be unrealistic to learn the back-story on every single person we encounter, we need to be creative and empathetic before being angry. Bothered because the couple in front of you isn't paying attention in church? Maybe it's because they had been fighting previously. Maybe it's some other reason. Instead of harboring anger towards a situation you don't know about, instead be creative in finding a reason to love.
  • Projecting my own version of what people "should" do on someone else: This is by far my biggest issue. Especially when I've made a change in my life, I want everyone to make the same change. Once upon a time I thrived on watching TV. These days, I rarely ever turn it on. To do so, in my opinion, is akin to admitting a reliance on someone else's creativity in order to have fun. When friends talk about "just watching whatever is on TV" tonight, then, I find myself angry. And why? Because they don't see the genius light of my ways. In effect it's simply because they're different than me.
Notice anything about these three reasons?

In all of them, I wanted the people to be more like me. And why? Was that my ultimate mission, my endgame? To create an entire world of little Giancarlos?

The real problem isn't Bill O'Reilly, or the roommate who won't put away the dishes, or people spending evenings watching 30 Rock. The real problem is me. Instead of trying spread the gospel of Giancarlo, I should be spreading the Gospel of Jesus.

I think the Bible suggests that somewhere, right?

(Correct me if I'm wrong)


thatoneguy said...

I'd like to add verses 38-42 to the text: [38]"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' [39]But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. [40]And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. [41]If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. [42]Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Renee said...

i think there's a danger for christians to go to extremes when it comes to contrition. understanding the wages of sin is often misinterpreted into feeling like a guilty, worthless perdedor... resulting in a constant sense of failure; it always comes back to my failure. i think it's def imp to try to live with an understanding of "costly grace," but the things is, we are always going to fail. because we are human. and frail. and weak. and that is the beauty of christianity. that God makes something out of that.

Giancarlo said...

Well said, and I think I agree. I mean, I think it's key to accept being imperfect.


I also think acceptance easily leads to complacence, a sort of throw-your-hands-up-in-the-air, "well, what am I going to do? I'm imperfect" attitude. If it reaches that level...I mean, that's not okay. I for one don't ever want to feel complacent towards loving others.

Except maybe Ben Affleck. What a loser.

thatoneguy said...

You each have good points; I think it helps to acknowledge, too, that sometimes being upset or angry can be an appropriate response.