Here at AAK we love challenges! And this week’s is a doooooozy… because it’s related to this Sunday’s Gospel:
Jesus said to his disciples:
"If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that 'every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.'
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:15-20
Now, I know what you’re thinking… “That’s a lot of steps to remember. Jesus, if someone wrongs me I’m pretty sure the baby rage monster growing inside of me will not remember these steps.” No? Just me?
This week we are just going to focus on Step 1.
CHALLENGE: When someone wrongs you, offends you, makes steam come out of your ears, requires you to take a lap, pushes that button they reeeally shouldn’t have pushed, maligns you, contradicts you, calls you out in front of others, forgets you, talks back, humiliates you… “go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.”
Between you and him alone? But how will I externally process this wrong committed against me if I can’t tell everyone the story about poor me and how I am the victim here? Because isn’t that our go-to reaction? When we’re hurt, or embarrassed, or trespassed against in any way… we feel compelled to tell everyone: Can you believe he/she said this to me???
We run around gaining allies for “our side.” We malign the maligner to feel okay. To feel normal. To get that affirmation that we are not the bad guy in the situation. We run our mouths in an effort to heal our hearts… which is so wasteful because it doesn’t heal the hurt. Affirming our outrage and indignation only builds our walls up higher and gets us one step closer to writing our own “Look What You Made Me Do.”
As a wise internet meme once stated, “You can’t make everyone happy… you’re not bacon.” We will rub people the wrong way, we will say the wrong thing, we will get called out. We are human. Not bacon. The people in our lives will also rub us the wrong way, say the wrong thing--we may need to call them out, but we do not need to do it publicly.
The Challenge is to accept the hurt, the inconvenience, the unsolicited suggestion from your mother, and keep it to yourself. I’m not saying you need to shove the hurt down into your deep, dark, compartmentalized shame hole… but maybe don’t tell all of your co-workers, friends, neighbors, the deli cashier, your manicurist, that barista, or bartender the story. Removing “You wouldn’t believe what that _______ _______ _______ said to me today!!!” from our vocabulary for one week is a good start.
By refraining from this behavior for one week we will grow in humility (shudder), keep more items like gossip, detraction, or murder off of our list for the confession line, and grow just a little in holiness.
BONUS CHALLENGE: Pray for the person that harmed you. And not just “JESUS H. CHRIST!” A real prayer, a sacrificial prayer, an intentional prayer. Ask for the ability to forgive, for peace in our own hearts, and for whatever is happening in his/her life right now that is making him/her such a… treat.
In closing let’s pray just a smidge of that Litany of Humility:
That others may be loved more than I ...
That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. Seriously… because it is only through grace.
Trying desperately to live In Him,