How easy is it to see the faults in others, especially when we have those same glaring faults. Anyone familiar with the idea of getting the plank out of your own eye before you try to remove the splinter in your neighbor’s eye?
So it shouldn’t surprise me that I notice when someone else is self-centered. In fact, I don’t just notice, I become Judge Judy ready to throw down the gavel and let the police take you away for your crimes. For instance, my friend was married to this total jerk. We met him for dinner one night and as we waited for our table, she asked him to rub her weary, stressed out shoulders. He looked at her and said, “No, I don’t want to.” WHAT? It’s not like she asked you to run to the car for body oil and your massage table. She just asked for a little affection and nurturing but he wanted another drink from the bar.
Then there’s the blatent ones who talk about themselves constantly. Can’t get a word in edgewise. I want to add to the conversation and I’m interrupted or dismissed. The audacity of those people, when I have something so important to say. Catch my drift here?
Or what about the people who are so victimized that they can’t possibly reach out to others because they are hurting more than anyone else in the world. I’m not about to shout, “Get over it!” But I might be thinking, “I hope you can get out of this so you can realize you are NOT this shameful person you think you are.” Rise up and work toward who God says you are, not who the world, our culture, Satan, whoever… says you are. Hmm, anyone know someone like that? I know what you’re thinking, dear friends.
And what about Britney Spears? I can be obsessed with news on Brit. Seriously. It’s not totally voyeuristic. Rather I feel some sort of connection to her troubles. No, I’m not on cocaine or any other drug for that matter, and I do have my husband and children and hopefully my dignity. But there’s something about that girl I understand. And it’s not just the narcissism of a little girl who wants the world to revolve around her. Although I do get that a little bit, too. It’s more of her troubled spirit that is so far gone that she can’t even think straight any longer. She is a victim. But she has also stayed there because that is what she knows…and maybe even enjoys to some extent. We like a little drama in our lives. But a little drama is not exactly what Britney is dealing with any more.
Where am I going with all of this? I write as a confession really. Yesterday one of my dear friends talked to me about some disappointments in our friendship. What does it boil down to? In a word: me.
I am the narcissist here. I do not say that to shame myself or give myself some sort of excuse for the behavior I’ve been a part of. I say this to process… my therapy… remember? I say this because I want to learn from my past but live in today. As I listened to my friend, I wanted to come up with all of these excuses for why I had been so self-absorbed. I had at least 25 reasons within the first second of our conversation. Then I shot a prayer to God. “Please help me listen. Really listen. Soften my heart. Let me know the truth and let it be freeing.” And he was faithful. Again. He always is- that God of mine.
In my friend’s words, I had been taking in our friendship more than giving. She felt abandoned and hurt. And I couldn’t deny it. I had abandoned her. I have abandoned a lot of people in the last few months of selfish behavior and rationalization. But I want to move beyond that. And I don’t just mean hurdle the fence and run. I mean walk through the valley if that’s where I have to go to become the friend God wants me to be.
I am truly sorry for the pain I have brought to my friend. I am even more sorry that I have missed out on her life and the lives of others around me because I saw my needs as the end all, be all. Thankfully, she was gracious and we were able to talk through the whole thing without freaking out that we would lose our friendship. I think that is what God meant friendship to be. Bold yet gentle. Intentional. Warm. Truthful. Sort of like Jonathon and David in the Bible.
As for Britney, I pray that she can listen to someone who truly cares about her heart and her future. I pray it’s not too late for her brain to get relief from distorted thinking. She is a real person, not a muse. And as fun as it can be to stand in judgment of people like Britney or Paris or Lindsey, they are just little girls trapped by the lie that the only way to be happy is to get their every whim met by whomever will meet it. Like every “All About Me” girl out there, they will continue to live in the dark vortex of narsicissm and lose out on authentic relationships that are truly life giving.
Thank you to my life-giving friends. May I turn toward God and allow His love to flow out of me in a way that is life-giving to each of you. You are treasured gifts!