3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
Lately, God has been making me more aware of the concept of "the speck vs. the plank". I learn through my own life and my own mistakes, obviously, but I also learn by watching other people. It's so easy to look at someone and think, "Boy, they really need to get themselves together," all the while, neglecting to address the glaring issues in my own life.
*Raises hand* Guilty as charged! But I am quietly learning, and God is teaching me to stop and think before I make judgments or snide remarks about issues in others' lives when I haven't bothered addressing what's in my own. Making snide remarks or judgments shows that I think more highly of myself than I ought to, like I'm somehow better than the person who is the object of my judgment. I'm no better. None of us are better than anyone else. If we're making those haughty remarks, it shows plainly that we haven't learned humility.
The murderer, the rapist, the abuser, the alcoholic, the prostitute, the cheater, the prophet, the police officer, the banker, the nice old lady at the grocery store, myself--we all have two things in common. First, we are all human and, second, we've all done things to cause hurt. God loves me no more than he loves a murderer. Boy, if that won't teach a person humility, I don't know what will. But that's grace. Grace is about favor we don't deserve.
I know we all struggle with this at times--the problem of thinking of ourselves as though we're better or wiser than someone else. Know where that comes from? Insecurity, pride and the sin of comparison--plain and simple. Comparing yourselves to others in either good ways or bad ways is wrong...it takes the focus off of who our true standard for living should really be. Whether we are putting other people up on the pedestal or we are putting ourselves up on the pedestal, everyone eventually falls off of it. "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18).
I'm grateful that God cares enough about me to put me in my place. You have to do that with your young children sometimes. Like little children, we are all self-centered and think we've got it all figured out. In fact, we have only become experts about the tip of the iceberg, forgetting that there's a whole bunch of things we can't see and know nothing about. God is faithful to teach us these things in a loving and gracious way if we're open to learning. It's when we're not open to learning certain things that we need to watch out for the hardest life lessons. Everyone goes through junk in their lives, but the hardest lessons are meant to bring out the good things in us and get rid of the bad.
I'm grateful for...
Dark movie theaters and a 4-year-old snuggling, and occasionally burying his face, on my arm. I was watching Toy Story 3 with my husband and kids yesterday and I looked over at them every so often and thought, "This is the life."
Lessons learned. Through both observation and experience, you can really catch on if you're aware enough to apply the lessons.
Steelers tickets. I am so excited to get them, even though they're for our chilly December game against Cincinnati. It's going to be a good game and I'm going to freeze my patootie off. It's okay, though, because I could do with a little less patootie. Plus, I can go with my brother, so that makes it even better. :)
A cloudy day. It would be sweltering outside if it weren't cloudy...thank you, God, for a respite from the heat.
Green. Summer is wonderful. I don't care how hot it is, because at least it's not snowing and I can see the green. Hooray!
Rental cars. I am so glad we bought the warranty on my car. Even though the part for my car is still not in at the dealerhsip, I had a free, fun rental TRUCK for 6 days. Now that I turned in the rental, my parents have let me borrow one of their cars until mine is fixed this week...thankful for that, too. Not sure where I'd be without help. :)
Creative juices. There's something about flowing in creativity that gives you a sense of the divine. Love that. We were meant to create and when we're not, we get into ruts and bouts of depression. We are creative beings because we were made in God's image. If you're not creating something or doing something that brings you joy, find it and do it. You'll be happier for it (and so will the people around you, I might add).
My hope is that you learn both from your own mistakes and from the ones you observe. Learning from something doesn't make you more enlightened than someone else, it makes you more humble. If you aren't humble, you haven't learned. "You ain't all that, plus tax", as a friend of mine used to say!
If you're in a rough spot right now, remember that things WILL get better and that you'll be okay. Learn what you need to learn from the situation and then move past it.