I started this post more as a “venting session” than with the intention of posting it. (I wasn’t quite sure of its fate in terms of seeing the light of day.) However, as I wrote, I found myself being led to some conclusions that I want to share.
Annoyed. Irritated. Irrational?
It’s especially difficult to be “not okay” with someone and to also not feel like you can address the issue with them because 10,000 negative consequences will take place (mostly in the form of drama and hurt feelings). In addition, you’re not allowed to vent to someone else, right? That would be gossiping, right? So, what’s a girl to do?!
For someone who is not at all the type to enjoy secrets or drama; I find myself having to deal with a lot of it as I get older. I just want to publicly protest here and say, “Wasn’t this supposed to end in high school because I really don’t like having to deal with this nonsense.” The worries about who’ll be offended by what, keeping tabs on who knows what information, and trying to make sure that everyone’s expectations are met – I hate that! I don’t think anyone likes it of course, but I find it particularly exasperating.
Do you ever wonder what you’re supposed to do with that feeling? I don’t think God has a problem with our anger or irritation. It’s what we do with it that matters. But that’s my question! What do I do with it? Sometimes we know that we should give ourselves time to cool down, especially when we suspect that our reaction may be irrational. However, what about those times when we feel justified? What if we legitimately believe that the way we’re feeling is a normal reaction?
I’ve often found myself in this situation; all that irritation is just stirring in my heart and I don’t know what to do with the negative energy. Meanwhile, the fact that I’m feeling this way is adding stress to my life and I don’t know how to get rid of it. On top of which, it’s frustrating to find myself yet again in a state of discontent. “Didn’t I just get done thanking you Lord for how at peace I am? Is this some sort of joke? Are you trying to be ironic? Because I think you’ve achieved that particular goal.”
I suppose I should talk to God (rather than asking him rhetorical questions out of frustration) – bring him my irritation and ask him to set me straight? I think that’s the right answer. However, I have to admit that there’s a part of me that likes to hold on to my anger. Some ridiculous part of me that feels self-justified and so proud that I don’t want to let God take it away. I want to revel in it and feel entitled to an apology or something equally ridiculous.
As I wrote this, I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, look at you. All these people (meaning a few friends) are giving you credit for sharing your faith and personal growth with others as a youth mentor. But your reaction is so immature. Where’s that wisdom and maturity now?” Well, just because I’m Christian and I have a pretty solid relationship with God doesn’t mean I’m unflappable. I make mistakes too! I stumble and I fall all over the place and the only thing holding me together is God.
That conversation in my head led me to reflect on several conversations I’ve had about how Christians are not immune to the temptations that “non-believers” face. It’s very true and although we can strive to be better people, that doesn’t mean we don’t fall victim to opportunities to be less-than-stellar. I think it’s important to remember that in our faith journey. God asks us to pursue humility not only because he wants us to serve but also because humility allows us to see our own weaknesses.
It allows us to self-evaluate and recognize when we’re allowing ourselves to follow the “ways of this world”. It requires actively checking yourself and remembering that those “great” qualities you have are more about God than they are about you. The words that pour out of you into someone else’s life (whether in person or on a computer screen) are from God. The wisdom, communication skills, and empathy – they all come from God. Whatever skills you have, they are his gifts to you, to be used for his purpose. So enjoy that sense of accomplishment at being part of God’s work, but don’t forget he has made you capable.
I often hear others criticize fellow Christians for being hypocritical. I get it, hypocrisy is incredibly off-putting and especially difficult to understand in people you hold up to certain standards. However, just like me and my temper tantrum displayed above, none of us is immune to human weakness. We’re just as susceptible to temptation and the devil is always looking to get us where we’re most vulnerable. That doesn’t excuse our sins but perhaps it puts those verses about judgement in perspective. Rather than be upset about a fellow Christian’s “hypocrisy”, we have a responsibility to them out of fellowship-love. That responsibility is to build them up and not tear them down (as Paul says in Romans 14). Remind one another of the humility and self-evaluation God wants us to embrace.
When fellow Christians “fall down” from the pedestal we’ve put them on, let’s try not to focus on their hypocrisy but instead remember their humanity.