Sunday, May 31, 2009

God Complex (or More of The Road Less Traveled)

When I do some introspection and consider the traits that make me who I am, I don't think I would list God complex as one of them. Most people probably wouldn't, yet, most of us do have that without even realizing it.

I would however consider myself to be very critical, of myself and of others. I try not to be, but usually I fail. It can be little things that "That person should NOT be allowed on the road", or it might be a bigger criticism of another person's parenting, or lack thereof :) See what I mean?

When I or you criticize someone or confront them for whatever reason, we are asserting that we are right and we know what is best. Are we? Do we? For myself, I would say most of the time probably not. We have been dealing with a lot of confrontation in the last few months. Not really within our little family, but it has affected us all the same. We are no different from most people though and confrontation is something everyone deals with. Whether we are on the receiving end or the giving end, it is a somewhat unfortunate part of life.

It doesn't have to be.

Using the definition of love that states that if you love someone, you desire their spiritual growth and are willing to work for it, then the truly loving person knows how to confront without judgment. Be honest, when someone lays into you for something, whether you fight back or not, it hurts and you feel judged. That is because you are being judged. By criticizing we tell someone that we are right and they are wrong. That we know more than they do, so we have to tell them what is what. How much better would it be if confrontation was done with true love. There is no quick fix. Chances are I will be somewhere near 639 before I get this right, but I figured I could share what I learned in case no one else has read this great book lately.

A truly loving person realizes that confronting someone is arrogant. They don't want to be arrogant, not just they don't want to appear arrogant, they don't want to be it. (There is a difference). Before a truly loving person confronts someone, here is a list of questions from The Road Less Traveled that they probably ask themselves. (pg151)

Do I really see things clearly, or am I operating on murky assumptions?
Do I really understand ________?
Could it not be that the path _______ is taking is unwise and that my perception of it as unwise is the result of limited vision on my part?
Am I being self-serving in believing that ________ needs redirection?

I have never in my life stopped to ask myself any of this before yelling at my kids for something they have done wrong. Perhaps if I did, things would change.

Peck continues on to explain that confronting is exercising power and leadership over another person. There are in fact times when this needs to be done, but before doing it, there needs to be very serious self examination.

"The problem is that the more loving one is, the more one is awed by the potential for arrogance in exercising power. . . Who gives me the right to dare to believe in my own understanding and then to presume to exert my will upon the world? Who am I to play God?"

There was only one man on this earth who had the right to confront and he is God.

How many times have you played God?

Does all this mean that we should never confront or criticize someone again? For some of us, maybe*, but then maybe not. Having a true love for another person and desiring their spiritual growth above other things, there may come a time, when after serious introspection we find that we really do have more knowledge in a certain area and we do need to help them and guide them in some way. We cannot stand by and let a loved one injure themselves if we can help, if that help can be given in the right way. To that end "We arrive, then, at yet another paradox: only out of the humility of love can humans dare to be God."

Truly loving correction will be based on a knowledge of God's will. For those of us with gospel knowledge that is somewhat promising. We have access to personal revelation. We can know God's will for ourselves and those we have stewardship over. It is then possible for us to help our children, but more often than not that is probably where it ends. We do not have stewardship over our spouses. We cannot receive revelation for them as individuals. We cannot know God's will for them. We can confront ourselves. Chances are that when we do that, we will become better people and thereby set an example for those around us to do the same.

I felt I should add this little blurb, just so that everyone/anyone who reads this knows that I am indeed function in the real world and not living in some la la mental state of psycho therapy.

*Disclaimer: I realize that there are times when confronting, criticizing and correcting is needed and that those situations are not anywhere near on the level of that I am discussing. Clearly there are times when one must correct a subordinate in a work situation, that's a whole other ball of wax, which I know less than nothing about. There are also times in regards to children when we must correct without extending self inspection, such as when one child kicks another for locking a door. Use common sense people. Your hearts and spirits will tell you when you are facing a situation in which serious reflection might be in order.