Once I was following a Facebook conversation between two people I have known for many years. Both are classic spend-a-holics. If they have a ten dollar bill in their pockets, they are going to spend it. In fact they often spend their ten dollars in advance, and have to borrow money from friends, causing them to constantly be indebted to others. As the Facebook conversation unfolded, both prided themselves on how well they handle money. They went on to talk about how they enjoy lots of free or inexpensive activities in the community. Having known them for many years, the words free and inexpensive do not come to mind when I think of the types of activities they like to engage in. They are both good people. But they enjoy spending money, almost to the point of being obsessed with material possessions and expensive activities. Yet, in their own minds, they are thrifty and excel at living frugally. They are self-deceived.
Lest you think I am judging my friends, I must confess that I am one of those "diet experts" who is happy to tell you how to eat healthy but is far too overweight myself. Like so many, I'm an expert in my mind only!
It is fascinating that we can have such an amazing capacity for self-deception. Another time I recall a long email I got from a person filled with gossip about various people in their church. She wanted me to come preach at her church and fix all these people. Near the end of the email the person said that she knew she was not perfect but at least she was not a gossip. I wanted to print the email off, underline the boast about not being a gossip and then number each item of gossip in the email and send it back to her. I did not have the courage to do that so I just replied that I was praying for her and her church.
When we live in a world of our own delusional thinking, we become trapped in a negative cycle repeating the same mistakes over and over again. We repeat those mistakes because we do not acknowledge that they exist. We must be willing to open our minds and hearts to the constructive criticism of others so that we can see our own faults and begin to address them. The ability to honestly assess our own lives and self-correct is essential for healthy living.
In my own life, I find a daily quiet time with the Lord essential in this process. As I read the scripture and pray, the Lord points out things in my life that need work. I do not always like what the Lord points out to me. But when I listen and respond, it helps me have a more authentic view of self.
Lord, help us see ourselves as we really are and make the changes needed for a healthy and happy life. Amen.