Recently I had this brilliant idea to try something I've never done before. This new thing is to try thinking that others are better than me.
Totally wild, right? I know this may come as a shock, but I am actually completely arrogant and prideful. And don't feel bad if that doesn't come as a shock to you. I'm not always so good at hiding it.
Lately I have been faced with just how arrogant I am in always assuming my way is the right way. I have always had a big mouth when it comes to questioning authority, especially when something doesn't make sense to me. I was that daughter that asked why I had to do my chores before playing outside and demanded the logic be explained to me. I was the annoying student who questioned the purpose of assigned homework. In water polo, my coach gave me the "Most Mouthy" award for how often I questioned her reasoning behind different drills. If something wasn't explained in a way I deemed satisfactory, I made it known that I thought it was stupid. I'm still that way.
I'm also quite a bit of a people-pleaser, so oftentimes I will obediently complete what is asked, but internally I'm only thinking about how ridiculous the duties are that I'm being asked to perform. I might have fooled some people into thinking I am humble, but I'm not. I think the way I do things is the best way, and I wonder at why anyone would do anything differently.
This mindset leads to a lot of judgment from me. I judge choices that I don't agree with, and I judge beliefs that are not identical to my own. And I'm tired of judging the world based on my ideas. It has taken some time for me to accept, but the truth is that I may not always be right. (But don't tell Sam.)
Someone else had this idea back in the day, and actually wrote about it in a fairly popular book. There was this guy, Paul, and supposedly when he was in prison he wrote this letter to the church at Philippi. Philippians 2:3-4 says,
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." (ESV)
I also really love the New Living Translation:
"Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too."
Don't be selfish. Put others needs before my own? Hmm...no, I'd rather have what I want, even if it is at the expense of someone else, because it is what makes me happy. And that's all that matters.
Don't try to impress others. Um, what? Isn't that why I was put on this earth - so people could have the chance to admire me and my life? Obviously I want everyone to be impressed with my writing, my cooking skills, my home, my marriage, my hair, my clothes, the fancy trips I take, my musical talent. If not for my own glorification, then what for?
Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Now that's just crazy talk. After all, applying this would include assuming that the choices others make that I think are stupid might actually be smarter than my own, or that people can decide for themselves how they live their lives without my judgment. Also, it might include some understanding on my part that the choices people make are based on their experience and knowledge, both of which I am not privy to.
The truth is, if I choose to believe in God and follow Him, that means He's the One I answer to, and I need to follow what His Word says. That means I need to stop judging, to stop assuming my way is always best, and to consider others as better than myself. Yes, it also means I believe God's way is best, but it means I don't force those ways onto those who don't believe in God. After all, what reason would someone have to obey God when they don't believe He exists?
This is going to be very hard for me, and I know I need to be patient with myself. When those judgmental thoughts jump into my head, I need to take these thoughts captive and turn them around. My plan is to simply memorize this verse and meditate on it, and repeat it when I catch myself being a jerk. (I'm also going to try and be a nicer driver on the West Salem bridge, assuming that other driver's time is more valuable than my own. This one might be the hardest.) I know it will be difficult, but it will be worth it. I'm excited to start taking my focus off of myself and instead think of others and how I can help or encourage them. I'm sure I'll be happier because of it.
There's a lot more I've been thinking about this (and obviously I assume everyone wants to read my important ponderings), but for now I must go to bed. I've got an early date with the airport to go visit my precious Mar-Mar and JA. Night, all.