We were gathered for a monthly Bible study at the mountain retreat center. I sat looking out the full-length windows at the hardwoods filling the hills. My mind drifted away from the lesson as I daydreamed about a weekend kayaking trip on the river running below.
We were studying the beatitudes in the book of Matthew, and the difficult things that come after them -- anger, vows, revenge, and loving our enemies. I sat at a long plastic table across the room from a woman who said. "It's just so hard to be like Jesus, especially loving people who are so hard to love."
Her words drew my attention back. Heads nodded in agreement around the room. This was clearly a pressure point.
I've personally failed to represent his character in manner and mood too often. Professionally, I've counseled and coached clients striving to be more like him too. Yet we fall short and usually berate ourselves. Again. And. Again.
My mind drifted to The Work of Byron Katie. I tried to bring my head back, but a memory persisted. "I cause my own stress when I don't take time to question my narratives about other people. When I take a closer look at the facts, I usually find an eye-opening message about myself.
In a flash, I remembered something else -- a picture painted by Debbie Ford in her book The Dark Side of the Light Chasers. We can imagine our chest as our energy center with numerous electrical outlets. Many of our outlets are sealed with plastic protectors, but some outlets remain open and unprotected. When a person stimulates stress or judgment in me, he/she has plugged into an energy current that is not grounded. When someone trips one of my live wires, I have the unique chance to see my own reflection, a part of me that has been hiding beneath my conscious awareness.
I've come to fondly call these my "blind spots." My blind spots regularly reveal to me that the matters most offensive and annoying in others, are the very things I am currently doing or have the dimension to do. Whether I like it or not, I have the capacity for good and evil, light and dark, truth and deception, love and hate.
I recalled how Jesus said it, "How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
I sat still as a stone with my mouth gaped. I suddenly realized what was unfolding. Words flew from my mouth and awkwardly over someone else's as I blurted out, "He had no blind spots!"
All eyes turned and waited for an explanation. I pulled my thoughts together and began to talk. "Jesus." I said, "There wasn't anything he didn't know about himself. Other people didn't offend him, not because he drew on His divine power, but because he was a human without blind spots. Nothing was outside of his conscious awareness; he had no plank-eye."
I continued, almost pleading, "That's the way we become more like Jesus. Not striving and faking our way through, but embracing each judgment as an opportunity to see ourselves more clearly. And to accept and love the other person, because through it all, we are more alike than different."
I needed a long breath after sharing. I took one and let out. They stared at me and some shook their heads like it might make sense?
No matter, it made sense to me. I woke up from a slumber that day. I finally understood that being more like Jesus is totally doable. It's not beyond our rickety reach and we don't have to wait an eternity. It's a practical process of using our every day fears and frustrations to get clear about who we are and how we're all connected.
Here's the prayer I'm praying in case you want to try it too:
"Jesus, thank you for the opportunity to see more of myself. Please use my anger and judgment to teach me about my own blind spots. Please keep healing my case of "plank-eye" so I can be who you fully created me to be. Thank you! I love you! Amen."
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