Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is safe. Confrontation is uncomfortable. Perhaps it is a stereotype or an over-generalization, but we seem to enjoy exceeding comfort in this country. If there is any threat to our view we feel the need to speak louder, to silence opposition. We operate so well in the flesh. Sadly, we are creatures that are better at speaking and arguing than we are at listening and seeking to understand different individuals. Why?
I’ve started noticing a trend. We often criticize the flaws in others, especially those who are drastically different, at least seemingly so, that we are choosing to ignore in ourselves. Recently I’m observing qualities in a co-worker that just seem to be irritating me. I get along with this co-worker quite well. Our upbringing seems relatively similar. However, our interests are vastly opposite. She seems more materialistic, work-driven, and self-absorbed than I like. Yet, upon further analysis, I am starting to think that I am more materialistic, work-driven, and self-absorbed than I care to admit. Her interests are different and so it easy to notice when she disagrees with me and seems like only her world matters. I’m not so different from that, am I?
I’ve criticized Frank’s parents for their television consumption, my parents for their inclination to desire excess (the newest and best technology, for example), Willow’s babysitters and their consumption of sugar, processed foods, and carbohydrates, and this co-worker for her dismissal of taking interest in current events and instead shop for her “needs”.
I’m beginning to realize that these critiques are merely a choice to ignore issues that I need to address in my own life. I claim to not like watching television, but at home I’m much more sedentary than I care to confess. I do watch a significant amount of television, especially for someone who only has the Internet and Netflix, no cable. I claim to be a minimalist. While my desire for excess might be different than my parents, if I look closely enough, I still have more than I need and I might not be as minimalist as I claim to be. My excess simply comes in coveting different idols, not jewelry or weight loss recipes like my mother or tech-gadgets like my dad, but travel, board games, Montessori education supplies (which at this stage might just be me trying to have Willow grow up faster, sadly), and storage. Before being diagnosed with hypoglycemia with this pregnancy, I ate far more sugar and processed foods than I care to admit. I always claimed to eat healthy and have a desire to, but I really indulged in these vices frequently. Now, thankfully, it isn’t a matter of wanting or needing to change my diet, but having to so that I don’t experience blurred vision, dizziness, or nausea. I also talk a lot rather than listen and become more educated. I claim to be up to date on current events. Honestly, most of my news comes from social media, like Facebook. It is pathetic really. I need to read and research more. My opinions should be better informed, rather than joining together tidbits through Facebook headliners. I also shop more than I claim to. If I am open with myself, I am pretty self-absorbed. I am human and we all fall prey to pride at some point or another, but it is time I admitted this and stopped acting as if other people’s problems mattered as much in my mind as my own issues do. Frequently my prayers consist of my concerns and worries, not praising God for who he is and also for my family, friends, peers, or the world and its affairs.
I guess the first step in transformation is admittance of the issue, refusing denial. I don’t want to be blind to these sins. I want to be more Christ-like. To be more Christ-like begins by admitting the need for the Spirit to fill us in areas we have yet to surrender. I want to surrender these idols, these sins, these things which continue to separate me from a fullness of God and in God. Reader, please pray for me in this journey. If you feel inclined, please comment how your criticisms of others, especially those who are different than you, is revealing areas of your life in which God is calling you to surrender and submit to his Spirit in order to be transformed more into his image-bearer.