Friday, October 5, 2012

Sin and failing - part II

Okay, so I know that I am fallible and will make mistakes. There’s a difference between sin and just not being perfect.

So why all the angsty self-pity when I do stuff up? My level of agitation over my mistakes shows that there’s something else going on: pride. I might be partly sorry that I’ve inconvenienced other people. But mostly I’m upset about my mistake because of the discomfort it gives me, not others. I am annoyed because (a) my mistakes make me look bad and I care what others think of me and (b) my mistakes make me realize more clearly that I am not perfect and this irks me. How much it irks me is a good measure of how high my own self-opinion really is. When I agonize over a simple mistake, it’s because I’m vain enough to think that kind of thing could and should be avoided by me because I’m not “that kind of person”. What a load of codswallop!

The truth is, I am much less than I usually suppose myself to be. I don’t mean that in some kind of miserable “poor me” way. What I mean is that the longer I’m around the more I am convinced that most people think much more highly of themselves than they would admit or even realize. While it is a popular notion that most of us suffer from “low self esteem”, the vast majority of us spend our days carefully arranging matters to maximise the benefit to us and those we care about. We care for ourselves all day long. And we are angry when others treat us badly. And we are cross when our shortcomings are revealed. What does that say? It says we value ourselves more than just a little bit. I think we seriously underestimate how much time we are purely focused on our own best interests.

And add to this mix of self-interest the fact that I not only frequently fail just because I’m human, but that I often intentionally do that which is not kind or pure or truthful or self-sacrificing.  And usually I am much more upset over my failings than I am about the damage I’ve done to someone else by my sharp words or my deceitful heart!  There’s really no room for pride, is there? If I take a long, hard look at myself, the cracks show up all too quickly.

When I stumble and fall on my face, it bops on the head that pernicious attitude that I have about myself being “quite a good person – yes, rather clever and competent, thank you very much”. It is actually a lovely thing to be rescued from my own self-righteous pride. Truth is, I need saving whether I am feeling competent or not. I just tend to ignore my need when I’m feeling good about my own performance. When I find myself having a good long sulk about what I’ve done wrong, I need to have a good look at where my heart is at. Freedom is not found in ever more intricate levels of navel-gazing but in looking beyond me to the One who loves me as I am – failings, sins, warts and all. That’s where I can find rest for my anxious soul.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this honest post - I'm afraid to say it was a bit like looking in a mirror... And by the way, I've been enjoying checking out your blog for some time now - sorry I've been a silent observer (till now that is!) But it's excellent, so thanks! Em

Deb said...

So nice of you to leave a comment. It's very encouraging to hear that it's not just me feeling that way!