.::My Own Jerkdom

About a year ago I took my family to Malibu for the Pepperdine Lectureships so my wife and I could go around our old stomping grounds and visit old friends one last time before we moved to Nashville.  One of the things we did while we were there was to take our daughters to the giant pool there so they could enjoy an afternoon of swimming for my oldest girl’s birthday.  What we found out when we got there is that it was time for lap swimming when many of the people from the community come in to get there exercise.  They were instructed to stay in this small area and keep away from those exercising.  Well you know what happened next, my daughter, whose birthday it was accidentally got in the way of one of the ladies swimming her laps.

Now this lady WENT OFF on my 10 year old daughter and yeed at her like it was nobody’s business.  This lady immediately ruined all of our time at the pool.  (Who yells at a 10 year old girl?  Especially one as cute as mine?)

That day, it was so easy for me to condemn not only the act, but the woman herself.  I instantly declared that she was a bona fide “jerk.”  I didn’t know what kind of day she had had leading up to this moment.  How lonely she might have been?  How stressed her life was?  What her story was as she entered this pool that might have given me the opportunity to understand her outburst.

But after reading some of Barbara Brown Taylor’s An Altar in the World, she says, “since recognizing my jerkdom is how I remember that is not who I want to be.” It was through some of her self-reflection that she mentions her own ‘jerkdom.’

So I began to inventory some of my own moments of jerkdom:

  • the exasperation I felt towards a woman at Wal-Mart who had the audacity to pay with a third party check in the express lane holding me up on my very un-busy Sunday afternoon.
  • the shameless tailgating that I am known to do with the guy who is so thoughtless as to drive the speed limit, or heaven forbid, 2 mph UNDER the speed limit.
  • the way I will raise my voice at the ineptness of the customer service representative on the other end of the phone line when I am not getting my way.
  • the utter disdain I felt toward the worker in the Taco Bell Drive thru who forgot my fresco bean burrito with no onions that I doscovered was missing AFTER i got home.
  • the ways I will yell at the top of my lungs at my own daughters for some of the littlest things they do.
  • how overly frustrated I can get with a person who doesn’t see the world as I do.

This list is by no means exhaustive.  It is only beginning to scratch the surface.  As I reflect at my behavior, I realize now how so very often, those around me must have witnessed my actions and could have easily concluded, perhaps accurately, that I was a jerk.

This is not the salt & light lifestyle that Jesus talks about in the Sermon on the Mount.  This is not living in a way that those around me we see any of the grace and hope that I wish I was projecting at all times.  I want those around me to SEE the hope and grace I have in Jesus and want to know more about it.  I think this is what Peter means when he writes:

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”

I Peter:3-15-17

I don’t think this passage about intellectually preparing an apologetic for those who think differently than you so that you can blast them with the CORRECT answer when they ask you stuff about the Bible.  I think Peter is encouraging us to live our lives in such a way that those around us ask us about this HOPE we have that makes our behavior different.

The Bottom Line: This is not who I want to be, or who I was created to be.

Lord, may my jerkiness be dissolved.  May your Hope, Your Grace, Your Glory be revealed.

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