On my list of “meanest people,” I can think of quite a few folks that I’ve felt burned by over the years. I’ve watched blatant disrespect – vengeance – and selfishness/greed ooze out of people. I’ve been quick to label them as mean or evil (which they might be).
Now I’m not dismissing their behavior – but as I drove yesterday I had a bit of a revelation that I felt compelled to share with others. I think it was stimulated from a conversation with a friend about some evil he had encountered in his life.
The meanest person I know isn’t the person from last week or last month or last year that had wronged me. The meanest person I know is, well, me.
NOBODY speaks as negatively about me as me. In fact, I woke up this morning with anxiety because I’ve been constantly battling my weight (and losing) and I feel terrible about it. I criticize myself more than the rest of the world ever could. I’m the biggest bully I know – and the victim is staring back at me in the mirror.
Amidst lots of ‘victories’ and ‘successes’ in my professional life, the bully within still emerges. Instead of rejoicing over the great friends I have in a picture – I criticize the reflection of myself because it’s overweight. Instead of celebrating the job well done from a recent event, I look at pictures and make myself feel worthless because of my imperfections and weaknesses.
I’m a real jerk. When the rest of the world tries to build me up, I tear myself down. I focus on what’s not right about me instead of giving glory to God for the things that are right with me!
If I EVER heard someone talking to a loved one the way that I talk to myself – they would be met with sheer aggression and relentless combat until resolve was found. And yet I allow myself to spew venom without regard.
I know how ridiculous I am – but chances are I’m not the only one that is an uber-bully to themselves.
When asked what the greatest commandment is – Jesus responds by saying that we are to love the lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. OF COURSE we are to love God with everything we have. That makes complete sense – to love our Creator from the bottom of our hearts. But it’s the second part that I struggle with. Jesus then says to love your neighbor as yourself.
It makes sense to love your neighbor – I mean, that’s God’s creation after all. Somewhere along the way, though, I forget that I am to love God’s incredible creation that is ME. If I fail to do so, then nothing else really falls in line.
If you don’t love yourself – you can’t love your neighbor. And if you can’t have love for God’s creations, you can’t really have unadulterated love for God.
So every time that you or I tear ourselves down – we’re in misalignment with God’s plan and commandments.
So may you and I look in the mirror and give thanks. May we criticize ourselves as an acknowledgement of sin (and a desire to change that) but may our next thoughts be of love and adoration for what God created. May God give us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change. May we have the strength to change the things we can. And may we have the wisdom to know the difference.