Saturday, September 17, 2011

Words I hate

This morning a friend emailed me, and concluded with an ad he'd seen in his local newspaper about a man who teaches: "mindfulness and mindfulness based conflict engagement." I must have stared at the screen for five minutes when I saw those six words.  What on earth could that possibly mean?  And why on earth would anyone want to learn what this man intends to teach? The epitome of absurd, if you ask me.  But then, I can't stand the word mindful.  Really.  It reeks of churchiness to me, and I'm not all sure that it actually means today what it was meant to mean.  There used to be a reverence to it, I think.  But now, like so many words, it's empty of that.  Mindful.  Full of mind.  As if the rest of the time we're empty of mind.  And, come to think of it, some of us are...living and using empty minds, that is.

But that's not my point.  My point is, there are words and phrases I've never liked.  Ones that always make my jaw clench and hair stand up on the back of my neck.  
1. "But you..."  I really can't stand these two words.  I'll give you an example of what I mean.  Two days ago, like every day since Grampie went into the hospital, I made a plan with his wife to visit him the following day.  Yesterday the plan was that I pick her and her care-giver up at 11:45. I left my house at 11:30, was half way to her place, driving on the freeway when I got TWO phone-calls from her.  I rarely answer the phone in the car, even on speaker (or blue-tooth) because I have a tendency to vary my speed with the conversation.  It's just not a very safe practice.  But I thought there must be an emergency when the phone rang the third time.  So I pulled over, only to find out (from the care-taker) that she wanted to go later in the afternoon.  So last night, I told her it would be better to tell me BEFORE I was half way there, if she wanted to change the plan.  "But you sleep in in the morning, so I didn't want to call you," she said.  See, 'but you...'--thereby deflecting the responsibility from herself to me.  
We do this all the time.  It's human reaction.  I'm not pointing fingers at her that I don't point at myself.  I know my instinct is exactly the same.  Beve tells me I've left a light on, and I want to tell him that he left the condiments on the counter.  Nit-picking each other's faults rather than taking responsibility for our own.
2. "I'm sorry if I've offended you."  This is a big one to me.  I really hate this phrase because of a single word.  IF.  It single-handedly negates the entire point of the sentence. Again, it deflects responsibility.  If you aren't certain you've offended someone don't apologize, but my guess is, that if you think you have, you probably have, and therefore, should be using the phrase, "I'm sorry THAT I've offended you." Or even more eloquently and more importantly, "Please forgive me for offending you."  That's the truth of it all. We offend people.  I think it's rare that one might have the need to say "IF..." in the context of hurting another person.  We know who we are.  The Spirit was given, in part, to convict us concerning sin. If you're honest with yourself, you know this.
3. "I didn't mean to hurt you."  Seriously?  Like this is an excuse?  Think of how many things people have done through out history with this as the excuse.  We hurt each other.  That's what we do as humans.  Let's be honest about it.  What is probably a better thing to say is, "I wasn't thinking about you at all."  That's the sad reality of sin.  We don't think about other people.  Not when we sin.  We're only thinking about ourselves.  Yet we hurt each other.  In small ways and large.  And you know what?  This will always be the case.  As long as humans try to live together we will hurt each other.  And those hurts will escalate into calamities so large there will be bloodshed.  I hate this.  

And it's good that I hate these words.  It's Him in me, hating them, I believe.  

I've been thinking about this today because that same friend told me this morning that I've always been harder on myself than anyone else.  I've been chewing on that through all the work of this day--the being with our son, our Grampie, friends and non-friends at a dinner (gee, I love making small talk!!).  And this is what I know.  My friend is right.  I am hard on myself. My mother was hard on herself.  She thought--from the marrow of her bones out, that she was a loser through and through, and worth almost nothing.  It was terribly sad, and hard to heal, though I am confident she is finally wholly healed and whole.  But my facing of myself and my own flaws come from a different place. At the heart of me, I not only do not believe I'm a loser, but am thoroughly convinced of my own worthiness.  Sure of who and whose I am.  However, also deeply and simultaneously aware of the distance I have to go in becoming truly Christ-like.  So yes, definitely hard on myself.  And rightly so, I think.  I take a sharp lens--the lens of the gospel that says, "Be holy as I am holy," and hold it up to myself.  And I hold that same lens to others, in some ways.  But here's the truth, I want to extend His grace to others, more than to myself.  Let Him show mercy to them through me.  I don't care what He does to me, but what He does through me--that's the only Christ I can be to the world.  Let Him be more in me than I am in myself.  I've said that before, and say it again.  So when I write these words that I hate, I speak them most loudly to myself.  

What words to you hate? And why?

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