“An unexamined life is not worth living.”
As a man who felt like life had taught him that he would always be alone, examining life is something that I spent a lot of time doing. But I wasn’t examining my own, I was just being critical of everyone else’s. Doing life on my own meant that I was constantly surveying the landscape for anything I could find about others’ lives to criticize as a way to momentarily feel better about my own.
That is a lonely and hard place to live.
Being critical is necessary at times. It is a way that we thoughtfully gauge what is right and true. But when it becomes a primary lens for how you see the world (and you become a critic), it isn’t good for you or anyone else around you. It was brutal for the people I lived with and those that worked for me.
It reminds me of the intro to that great quote from Roosevelt about the man in the arena:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.”
It is far easier not to risk, but to sit in the seat of pointing out the inevitable mistakes of those who do. Despite the knowledge that the best learning comes not from easily succeeding, but in the figuring out a way forward out of mistake or tragedy, it is still easier to watch and evaluate than participate.
I even took the gospel of love and turned it into a weapon I wielded to disqualify and judge verses woo.
I didn’t seek to understand, but to discredit.
I didn’t seek to find common ground, but further distance the territory I occupied.
I didn’t operate in the service of love, but in the service of accusation.
I didn’t approach others with a heart for what I could learn, but with the objective of looking for anything I could find to discredit what they had to say.
I believed that because I didn’t agree with something someone said, I had to disagree with everything they say. How sad.
Rescue came first in the form of an examined life. The reality is that I am not alone. I have a great wife, many children, close friendships, and many other intimate relationships. I enjoy the camaraderie and respect of many. I am loved. But more importantly I follow a God who loves me, sees me, and cares about me intimately.
My life has purpose, meaning, and value. The better I saw myself and the deeper understanding I had of my true identity, the less I needed to take from others. The less I needed their attention and validation and the less compelled I felt to tear them down to lift myself. I can approach others out of a posture of offering and not taking.
It also meant that I am less afraid.
I don’t have to discredit everything someone says because I disagree with some of what they say. I can appreciate that the glory of God is in every single one of His image-bearers, even in the ones that don’t cry his name or even align with my brand. I am open to experiencing God in more of His creation.
I am more whole-hearted.
Are you whole-hearted?
Are you assuming glory in everything in everyone you meet?
Is your cup so full that it spills over onto everyone you encounter?
What lens are you viewing your world through?
What do you think it is costing your family, employees, or others you lead to not be more whole-hearted?