My Own Worst Enemy
Am I so concerned with my own rights and happiness that I trod on all others? Am I living as though the “ends justify the means?” Who am I that I deserve more than the next? Do I feel like I deserve something better? Perhaps the world owes me something? Maybe God owes me something! Since I got short-changed earlier in life, now that I am in Christ, do I feel He owes me a better life now?
Do I resent God for not providing it to me? And does that mean that I must accomplish it on my own? Because I deserve it, and if nobody else will give it to me, I guess I need to take it myself!
Am I constantly trying to make “my” world better so that I can be happier or more comfortable in my world? And what about everyone who gets to be part of my world? Do they deserve any of these same rights, or is it just me? Was I uniquely wronged or wounded in my past that I should get a free-pass and not be required to live out Jesus’ commands?
Am I really even capable of seeing the pain I cause others because of how I treat them? Or more importantly, do I even care? If I’m being honest, if they aren’t concerned about helping me with my world and making it right, then screw ’em! I don’t have time for their issues or hang-ups. I can’t help them with their problems because I’m too busy fixing my own world so that I can be happy in it! And if they would just stay out of my way, they would ultimately live better in the utopia I have planned.
But now I wonder if I have really even considered what this utopia might look like? If I could indeed have complete “god” control over everything and everyone, what would I change and why would I change it? And would these changes actually make me happier?
And how exactly does this way of thinking and living fit in with the way the Bible says I should be living and treating others? Ironically, Jesus never spoke of happiness, did he? This is neither a right nor an expectation I should really have. He did speak very much about peace, but in the context of what is expected of me, he says (in Matthew 16):
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.”
Now, if I’m careless toward others, especially those nearest to me, what does that say about my heart? Perhaps I claim forgiveness to those who have wronged me in the past. But instead of truly forgiving, have I just unwittingly transferred my hostility to everyone else, or to a select and undeserving few?
I mean, if I can’t pay it back to those who have hurt me, perhaps now I can “pay it forward” so that others can share my wound with me, even if they don’t know it. And they’ll never know it because I don’t know it. If I’ve stuffed the pain into hidden places of my heart, I may not even know that I’m doing that to others. But I do know the wounds are there, so we won’t talk about it.
They say that “time heals all wounds,” but that’s baloney!
At least it is if a wound goes untreated. If I get a gunshot wound and ignore the pain and the bloody, messy trail I leave wherever I go, then, in the best case scenario, after some significant suffering, I will eventually die. Time will not make it better.
All the people that are in “my” world will be affected by that wound. I’ll bleed on their floors and their furniture. They’ll get blood on themselves every time they touch me, they’ll be unable to avoid the stink of the wound as it festers, and they will ultimately have to clean up after me. For those that live with me, they will be required to help me in all circumstances, while being very careful not to get anything on themselves, because then they’ll just spread it around.
Often times it’ll be so messy that they will slip and lose their balance, and maybe reach out for me to break their fall. Depending on how severe the pain is in the moment, I may or may not be inclined to let them. Most likely, I’ll just let them collapse and remind them of the requirement to watch their step around me!
On the other hand, if I have that wound treated immediately, surgery may, over time, provide complete healing because the source of the pain and destruction had been removed. There would certainly be a recovery period, and while there’s no guarantee that I wouldn’t have a permanent limp, that too may be overcome through rehabilitation, desire, and time, and most importantly, with the help, love, and support of those closest to me. And instead of deformation and debilitation, it just becomes a topic for a great story!
But if I choose to simply “live with the pain,” then so must everyone else.
Because, just maybe there’s a part of me that believes I deserved to get shot. A just reward for the sin I committed in my past, and so justice demands that I suffer. This means that I really don’t want to be healed. The wound is part of me, it defines me, and is a continual reminder of who I once was, and ultimately who I still am. For if I am healed, then there would be no excuses left for not living as Jesus did. Although I suspect that if I were healed, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself! Matthew 9:28-31:
“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied.
Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.
So, I guess, if I’m going to ask God to “fix” my world so that I can be happier, I suppose that just means I should instead ask him to fix me first. Then I can be happy regardless of the circumstances, and I’d find that my world, and the people that occupy it, are pretty decent after all.