Why is it so easy to see the problems in other people, but so difficult to spot our own? This week one of my friends didn’t have a cup of coffee before coming to work so she ended up having a splitting headache all day. I joked with her that she was experiencing withdrawal because of her coffee addiction; it was funny because it’s true. But what do you do when you have to face your own addictions?
Over the weekend, my pastor encouraged everyone to fast and pray for our nation and our city. It’s physically very difficult for me to go without food, so I chose to fast social media. Honestly, I went into this thinking it was going to be easy and just a minor inconvenience, which is wrong and not at all the criteria one should use when deciding what to fast. I went to a coffee shop and began writing, planning out my blog posts for the week, and realized just how difficult this fast was going to be for me. When I’m thinking or in between writing posts, I hop onto Instagram, usually without much thought; it’s an automatic reaction. I typically use looking at beautiful pictures as a palette cleanser before moving on, and without that, I struggled to know what to do, my routine was interrupted.
We all have problems.
I used to be the reigning queen of judgement-land, sitting atop my self-righteous throne, criticizing everything my eyes beheld, pushing myself far above everyone else as a way to cover up my own insecurities. When you begin to drill down on your own problems and search for healing in your own life, it’s amazing how you find that you’re actually worse than all the other people you were judging. Jesus knew about people like me and addressed this issue in Luke 6:41-42:
“It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”
It’s amazing to me how I can have compassion now for certain people and people groups that I used to judge harshly. Now that I’ve begun to work on my own problems, addictions, and hurts, I can communicate with others from a place of understanding and empathy instead of a place of contempt and criticism. I’m learning that many of our addictions and problems stem from the same root, though the symptoms may look drastically different. I chose my hide my insecurity by judging others, not realizing that the promiscuous, prideful, and self-promoting people I was judging were dealing with the exact same problems I was.
I have a problem.
This is a powerful, life-changing sentence. Having the humility to admit that you aren’t perfect, you need help, and can’t do everything on your own is huge!
It was eye-opening for me to realize this week just how important technology and social media are in my life. I struggle when I don’t have that mobile device securely in my hand, ready to entertain me whenever I have a lull in my day. Instagram and other mindless apps have filled a void in my day that God should fill. I have settled for distraction instead of devotion and entertainment instead of revelation. It’s a sobering thought when you realize that Jesus is often relegated to second place in my life, my mind and time consumed by technology and things that man made.
Whether your addition is coffee or something stronger, social media or some other technology, the approval of man, or something entirely different, I encourage you to take those things to God. He has a knack for taking our problems and making them beautiful. He specializes in taking screw ups and making them into beloved sons and daughters. Run to him, he’s waiting for you with open arms.
To go Deeper: Read The Pesky Green-eyed Monster