As I’ve gotten older (42 now . . . but you know, age is just a number), I’ve begun to notice a few changes in my eyesight. I’ve had to add reading glasses of varying strengths to my briefcase, and I may even have to go back to wearing glasses when I drive. The change in my vision caused a shift in my perception of reality. Or as my side view mirror says, “Objects in mirror may seem closer than they appear.”
I’ve noticed a similar reality shift in other areas of my life . . . specifically in regards to my “sin.” Over time, I stop seeing my sin as clearly as I once did and I stop appreciating what Jesus did (and continues to do) for me. My ‘debt perception’ has shifted. I think there are several reasons behind it . . .
- The Comparison Trap – I love headlines . . . the more dramatic, the better. Honestly, they help me feel better about myself. When I compare my sin to what I read in the news or what I think someone in my circle has done, I end up feeling pretty good about myself . . . “I only looked at her which isn’t as bad as ________.” “I only yelled at my kids which isn’t as damaging as what ________ did.”
You get my drift. It’s the plank and the speck from Matthew 7:1-3. Or as The Message puts it . . .
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.” (italics mine)
- Drive-by Forgiveness – I like being forgiven but don’t really want to disclose everything I’ve done. I hadn’t thought about this idea until my last mentoring group where we discussed Prayer, including the book Too Busy Not to Pray. The author says it this way . . .
“Lumping all my sins together and confessing them en masse keeps me from feeling the neglect or embarrassment or shame that should be elicited in me.”
This hit me right between the eyes. How many times do I cheapen God’s grace by quickly asking for His forgiveness?
- Me vs. We – When left to my own thoughts, it is easy for me to assume I’m a lot better (or a lot worse) than I really am. And this isn’t a ‘me-problem,’ Male isolation is an epidemic. At a meeting with mentors in Omaha, NE recently, almost everyone described, with tears in their eyes, a mentee who admitted he was ‘friendless.’ At the height of my business career, each week, I found myself on a plane . . . in a rental car . . . in a hotel room . . . alone. For all intents and purposes, I was friendless.
As I’ve thought through this shift in my debt perception, it’s reminded me of the impact mentoring groups can have. Mentoring in a group environment, and beginning the season by having men share their full stories, creates space for the walls to come down and for each of us to realize someone else struggles with the same things we do.
As C.S. Lewis says, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.’”