From the beginning of time it’s been a thing. The blame game. Deflecting any negative quality, embarrassing moment, or wrong behavior onto someone else.
“He did it.” “She did it.” “My kid picked up that bad behavior from your kid.”
It’s a tale as old as time …the beginning of the gnarly weaving of thorns that would eventually crown the head of the One Who came to rescue us.
Who’s to blame?
It’s surely not me. Must be you! 🙂
But seriously, it seems we often let annoying characteristics of someone else become a splinter under our own skin that feels bigger than the even bigger log of our own flaws we just tripped over. There’s always an innate need for self-preservation, vindication, to prove our “rightness.”
It looks like none of us has fallen too far from the apple tree.
What’s the remedy?
For starters, let’s side with the writer of Psalm 139 …“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
What’s going on in my own heart?
When I become defensive in response to someone else’s comment, what is that revealing deep-seating in my own emotions? Am I embarrassed to think I might not look smart enough or worry what others might think of my behavior? Does their remark remind me of something negative my dad or mom or significant adult used to say to me that is still stuck in my craw?
Am I trying to protect my reputation from the opinions others might form about me? Has deflecting the attention to someone else’s negative behavior become a way to make me look better in the eyes of others or not see the flaws in myself?
Am I searching for a formula or a reason to something is the way it is so as to satisfy that inherent “need to know?”
Who’s the real enemy?
I hate to break it to you– “I have met the enemy and it is us,” ( slightly morphed phrase originating from Commodore, Oliver Hazard Perry in the War of 1812). Sometimes we’re our worst enemy …battling it out in our minds the need to be affirmed, validated, right, noticed, etc.
Along with the stuff we struggle with in our own hearts, we’re always going to have the basic pull of the world and culture around us. “Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.” (I Peter 2:11 NLT)
And then there’s Caption Obvious … “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion Looking for someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8 NIV)
How do we fix it?
I’d love to tell you it’s an easy fix …but it’s not. It’s a battle to fight almost daily. Temptations in the world, our own wrong desires, and the devil seem to always be at war with us in some form or another. However, knowing there is a battle and that it’s going on every day is a start. Also, God knows our weaknesses and in His grace and love, He left us some pretty powerful words in the Bible to help us stay strong under pressure.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God,so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God,so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
And for all the battle that rages on, maybe there’s a garden after all where the flowers bloom and there is peace and God walks with us in the cool of the evening.
Let this season of Lent take you back to the garden. Take a long walk with Jesus and ask Him what log you might be tripping over while trying to extract that tiny splinter from another unsuspecting traveler.
Walk in the Light as He is in the Light. Let the Spirit illuminate the real source of the thorn. Be brave enough to be the honest.
Let’s begin again.
Photos taken at the Huntsville Botanical Garden