i've mentioned this before, but i think it's funny and also fascinating that as humans, we possess certain qualities in such extremes that they end up being the very best and the very worst things about us at the same time.
today, i'm thinking about the best/worst idea in terms of selflessness and servitude and sacrifice. more specifically, i'm thinking about the best/worst idea in terms of treating others with utmost concern and telling them we're sorry when we don't.
it's really funny to me that there are some people who spend ungodly amounts of time agonizing over the way they treat others in the smallest of situations and end up apologizing for however they act anyway, while others take hefty stomps through relationships and interactions, pursuing their own agendas and never thinking twice about the way they're treating others unless they're confronted.
i've known a lot of fellow strugglers in addition to myself and i'd say that at least 99% of us fall into the "apologizer" category.
when i think back on some of the reasons i apologized just yesterday i'm slightly amazed at all the things for which i felt guilty and said i was sorry.
those who are closest to me get the bulk of the apologies and they also tell me to stop (i originally had "sorry to all of you" in these parentheses. i realized it when i was reading back over what i'd written and i laughed out loud). last night, after i'd apologized a few times over the course of an hour or so, a dear someone gently let me know that no more apologies were necessary.
so then i got mad at myself for apologizing so much. and i nearly had to bite my lips to keep from apologizing for apologizing.
but this morning i started thinking about it, and i started thinking about owning my actions and my words and what it would've been like if i hadn't gotten really upset with myself for putting too much lemon juice on the broccoli i was roasting or for realizing how much i miss my mom and calling her for 5 minutes to say goodnight while my boyfriend was over or for calling my best friend and talking about myself for a second. i thought about the fact that i wouldn't even have noticed if i'd been on the receiving end of those things, unless of course the person who'd done them had apologized. i suppose i would have noticed the intensely lemoned broccoli as well, but i would've made a sour face and laughed and moved on. and i would've been really sad if i'd known that the person who'd gone a little overboard with the lemon was beating him/herself up inside.
matthew 7:12 tells us to do unto others as we would have others do to ourselves.
of course, this means treating others with the respect and love with which we hope to be treated. but i also think that we can infer from this verse that that we should be as vulnerable and as receiving of love and care from others as we hope they'll be with us.
in other words, if i want people to feel comfortable to be themselves with me, to let their guard down and not worry about inconveniencing me or making a mistake or dumping their problems on me, then i should be my imperfect, disorganized (but working on it), occasionally emotional self with others, knowing that my authenticity in the context of our relationship is as much of a gift to them as theirs is a gift to me.
i am not saying that we should mistreat others and expect them to mistreat us back and call it all even. what i am saying is that "apologizers" need to be better discerners of what is mistreatment and what is just being human. there's nothing more healthy than admitting our wrongs and expressing our regret for them. but there's nothing more unhealthy than thinking everything we do is wrong and magnifying the effects of our smallest decisions and thinking we're horrible when the people around us never got past sensory perception of those decisions in the first place.
i am not saying that we shouldn't try to meet others' needs. what i am saying is that "apologizers" need to strive for a more realistic perspective on what others' needs actually are. outside of extenuating circumstances, i can't think of anyone who genuinely needs the person with whom they're spending time to never make a 5 minute phone call or run back to the car to grab a jacket or make one more trip to the produce section to grab something they forgot or act really silly when they're feeling silly or just simply say that they're sad. if anything, the people who love us need for us to be comfortable and confident enough in their love that we'll do any and more of the above without thinking.
when i write blog posts, i'm usually talking through things that, by the grace of God, i've already processed. i can only think of a few times i've ever written "on the fly" to process through something and hope i can make some sense of it as i type. but, just so everyone knows, i had no idea what this post was going to say until i said it. God came through. He spoke into my emptiness and i typed.
a few minutes ago i took a break from writing to change my laundry. as i was walking down the hall to the laundry room, my heart and mind felt lighter. i felt allowed to stop treading on eggshells and trying to be perfect. i felt allowed to be the my truest self in the context of striving for Christ's likeness in relationships. i felt like i could stop thinking a million miles a minute and just do unto others as i'd have them do unto me. it feels good.