Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Is it I?

Now when the even was come, [Jesus] sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, "Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me."
And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, "Lord, is it I?"

--Matthew 26:20-22
The quote above comes from an important point in the life of Jesus Christ. He and his apostles are sitting down to celebrate Passover, and although the others do not yet know it, Jesus is aware that this is the last meal he will ever eat in his mortal life (thus the term "Last Supper"). When he drops a bombshell on his dearest friends, their response shows they have learned a key principle from him. Rather than casting aspersions on any of the others (i.e., "Yeah, bet it's Judas; he's been acting squirrely lately"), each man asks himself, "Could I possibly be the one to do this thing?"

Brutally honest self-examination is just as difficult to accomplish now as it was 2000-odd years ago. We know in theory that we're imperfect human beings with negative traits and personal shortcomings, but most of the time we overlook these shortcomings because it's painful to scrutinize our own souls for faults, and it's troublesome to overcome such faults. It's far easier and much less painful to point out the faults in other people. Trouble is, this is precisely what we've been asked not to do.

In 2014 I picked up a book with the slightly amusing title of Thank You For Being Such A Pain, in which the author discusses the myriad spiritual pathways to deal constructively with the difficult people in one's life. One of his overarching theories about such people is that, whether or not they are aware of it, they come into our lives to teach us something important. Quite often, the people who make us crazy illustrate those faults and weaknesses we try to hide from ourselves -- because, human nature being what it is, the traits we find most irritating in others are usually identical to our own shortcomings. It wasn't the first time I'd been introduced to this theory, but now that it's had a chance to sink in, I'm seeing some of the many ways in which it applies to me.

So, practically speaking, how does this theory apply to my life right now? Well, I guess I need to work on getting rid of bigotry and needless intolerance of others in my thoughts and behavior. I need to be willing to listen to different viewpoints and seek to understand why others hold them dear. I need to learn to respect other people's time, recognize when I am monopolizing it, and back off. I need to learn to show affection in appropriate ways. I need to curtail my tendency to talk too much and too loudly. I need to learn not to be prickly when people are only trying to be kind. And I need to apologize quickly and honestly when I slip up and hurt other people's feelings.

That ought to be enough to keep anyone busy for a while, right?

No comments: