Recently I attended a Chamber of Commerce mixer designed to introduce business people to each other for networking purposes. A nicely dressed middle aged man walked up and shook my hand asking what my business was. I told him I was a marriage and family therapist. He then introduced himself as also being in the “weight loss business” saying, “I show people how they can lose about 200 pounds. I’m a divorce attorney.” He laughed, and walked away.
My initial response was that he was being “cute.” Then I thought about how his comment included my profession as he obviously thought of me as another weight loss solution. This thought made me sad. But, then I began to mull over this concept and reality hit me smack in the face. Often, when couples come to counseling, the damage has been so extensive and forgiveness so sparse, reconciliation is no longer an honest consideration for one or both of them. They are merely acting interested in counseling as a “last ditch effort” and one more thing to check off of their pre-divorce to-do list.
As New Year’s Eve approaches, a time when resolutions are considered and the difficulty of their accomplishment are measured against the pros and cons of making any serious commitment. Simply put, we begin to “should” ourselves into a corner: “I should loose those 20 pounds I put on during Christmas,” “I should do something with my hair,” “I should get on that bicycle that’s sitting my living room.” So what do we do instead? We pick up a self-help book, read a magazine, or download an app to help motivate us. Then we promptly finish the book, the article, or forget about the app. By the second week of January we’ve lost our resolve and toss the idea of a commitment out with a careless expression of, “I’ll do better next time.”
Just as careless we can be with our relationships. How many times do we say “should” but it’s about what your partner, child, parent, sibling, or boss should do? How many times do we judge their behavior and excuse our own?
Matthew 7:3 says, “So why do you see the piece of sawdust in another believer’s eye and not notice the wooden beam in your own eye?” (GOD’S WORD Translation).
How many times has the wind kicked up a speck of dirt into your eye and it stops you in your tracks? You can think of nothing else but getting that foreign object out of your eye. Now imagine the wind kicking up a heavy eight foot long 2×4 piece of wood and sticking it in your eye. How much pain would the weight of it cause you? How much more effort would you make to rid yourself of its presence? Instead, we walk around bashing into other people with this “plank” sticking out of us and every time we bash into someone, we blame THEM for the pain we feel, even though it’s self-inflicted because we have done nothing to remove the plank. How many times have we been told by others that if we would just remove the plank from our eye, we wouldn’t feel hurt so much? And how many times do we respond to they by pointing out the “speck” in their own eye, making the discussion about their imperfection, their flaws, and their need to change?
Often, I see the opposite problem as well. I have clients who have focused so much on their own speck, that they allow their spouse, business-partner, parent, or friend to bash into them with their plank and then accept the criticisms and blame and responsibility for solving the other’s plank problem. I hear clients say, “I feel guilty” because they recognize they do have responsibility for their own speck of dust in their eye, but that does not give the other person the right to bash you with their plank. This feeling of guilt leads to self-punishment and acceptance of another’s bad behavior because we minimize, excuse, and inappropriately forgive another who has not repented and made efforts to remove the plank from their own eyes. Relationships suffer, boundaries are violated, and hearts are broken because of this error in problem solving.
So, for your New Year’s resolution, consider what is in your own eye first. Do you have a plank or a speck of dust. And try to look for what’s causing the problem in your relationships; is it a plank in your eye, or the eye of another and ONLY take responsibility for what is in your eye. Seek out help to remove the plank(s) before you’ve bashed and ruined your relationships beyond repair. But also, seek help if another is bashing into you. At the very least you can learn to wear body armor and learn defensive skills to avoid being bashed. Remember this; change only happens when there is enough external motivation (pain) or enough internal motivation (goals) to move someone. Most of the world is stuck somewhere in-between. They feel the pain, but not enough to change and they don’t have a goal or purpose big enough to pull them out of their painful circumstances. So they sit, complain, and blame everyone else for their circumstances.
Don’t waste another year sitting in pain. Call the Encouragers Team and let us help you find your purpose in life and develop skills to let you love and be loved free of the pain and suffering of the past.
We can help you loose the weight of the plank.