Wednesday, October 30, 2013
The Unforgiving Ego
I've been hurt in the past and people have hurt me recently. I'm a big boy and I can take care of myself, but it's not physical harm that worries me; it's the harm that words can do. I'm not talking about general jibes and insults, no, but words that are sewn together with the purpose of disempowering, belittling, undermining, attacking your moral integrity, and so forth. These words are destructive. I have been subject to such words. Scripture tells us:
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits." - Proverbs 18:21
The tongue giving and taking life means that what we say and how we say it to others can either empower, inspire someone and help set them on the path of righteousness, or strip them of their hope, their faith and self-belief.
Dealing with such harm doesn't get any easier as some people may find different and new ways to hurt you. I've been accused of being an inept Christian father, accused of being irresponsible for supporting and echoing the Catholic Church's teachings on sexuality, accused of being a bigot and a hate-monger, a fake, a phoney, a liar, and a hypocrite, but always by people that have disagreed with me or disagree what I believe in; critics of Church teachings or critics of Catholic-Christianity. I think the biggest mistake I've made is taking those attacks to heart, but then again it was difficult not to take them to heart; they were very direct and very personal.
What I've learned - this year in particular - or been reminded of is the importance of forgiveness. Yes, we should always be prepared to forgive, but in the process of forgiveness we also must recognise our pride. By the grace of God I have forgiven my transgressors and with the help of a friend (I guess unofficially he's my spiritual director) I have been able to recognise why I have taken these attacks so deeply to heart and how to sooner overcome them should it happen again.
I am a sinner and full of pride; I find it hard to admit to doing wrong to seek forgiveness. Forgiveness requires charity, and in order to love more charitably - to love more like Christ - I need more of Christ in order to forgive because I can't do it without His help. I have many short-comings and I ask that others forgive them. Despite my own short-comings I can still direct my will to cooperate with grace in order to forgive others. As Christ has taught, we must always me prepared to forgive (Matthew 18:21-23).
As well as the importance of forgiveness, I've also recognised another of my short-comings...
Blogger's note: prayer, meditating on scripture, and spending time with the Lord through Mass and the Blessed Sacrament hastens one's discovery for their own faults, failings, and short-comings.
I was foolish enough to think that I had a "brand" to protect, a certain image to uphold, etc. so when I was attacked I would think, "How dare they! Don't they know who I am and what I do?!?" I have at times been very, very, very arrogant, and I didn't really have a right to be. Pride came before the fall. I have learned that if I do all things in humility - if I take my ego out of things - while it doesn't make me invincible to hurt, it makes it a lot easier for me to forgive. The strongest people are those unafraid of admitting their faults and failures. The haughty are prisoners of their ego, shackled and bound.
"The spirit of humility is sweeter than honey, and those who nourish themselves with this honey produce sweet fruit." - St. Anthony of Padua
The fruit of humility is forgiveness. It is this humility that bore our sins on the cross, overcame death, and gave us the means to unite ourselves fully with God in Heaven.
"He [Christ] must increase, but I must decrease." - John 3:30
Less of us, more of Christ.
We need to be able to see Christ in others (Matthew 25:40) and others need to be able to see Christ in us. This means humility; this means forgiveness and charity (selfless love).
Being a Christian is to be more Christ-like, and if there's something else I have learned through the hurt and calumny I've been subjected to this year, it's that the only way to get through it and come out better for it is with Christ and to allow His light to shine brighter.
Less of me, more of Christ.