A car swerves in and forces its way in front of me on the highway.
Someone in the grocery store express lane has 20 items instead of 10.
A parent breaks the rules in the school pickup line.
Someone sends their kid to school the day after they have vomited from a stomach virus.
A co-worker is slacking on the job and not fulfilling his responsibilities.
Do any of these bother you too?
These are just a few examples of things that bother me, but for some reason I cannot let it go.
When others don’t wait their turn, break the rules, or ignore common courtesy, it angers me and my focus is hijacked and held hostage. Especially if this is a repeated behavior, I grow more angry with each offense. I have noticed how severely these things annoy me and how difficult it is for me to move past them.
I have found myself dwelling on these things when I should simply carry on with my own life.
I try to follow rules. I hold myself to the standard of doing what is right, so when other people do not behave that way, I feel slighted, even cheated.
“Why am I wasting my time doing the right thing when no one else is bothering?”
It offends me because that person is saying that their time is more valuable than mine. I hear the message they are more important than me. Ignoring or breaking the rules or etiquette says that they are above following rules but no one else is.
I hate feeling like someone is trying to take advantage of me, because it I don’t like being manipulated. Also, I do not tolerate dishonesty or laziness. I value hard work and feel as though it should be rewarded.
When a person is lazy and gets what they want, it feels like an injustice to me personally.
When I see someone being treated unfairly, it makes me want to correct the situation.
When others are inconsiderate, it makes me outraged.
This focus on others following “rules” or behaving in an acceptable way has become a distraction for me. For some reason, my reaction to this “misbehavior” is anger. Part of me knows that I am being ridiculous to hold people to this standard when I myself am not perfect, but it still feels overwhelming.
The root of this distraction is pride. If you have studied the Enneagram, I am a 2w1. Pride is the sin of a 2 and feeling unworthy or unloved is the fear of a 2. If you don’t know what this means, here are the basics of this personality typing- Enneagram Institute . It’s the perfectionist (the 1) in me that fixates and is stuck on doing the right things.
When I fix my eyes on what others are doing wrong, it’s prideful. It’s saying that I think I am doing a better job than they are. I shouldn’t be dwelling on others behavior when I myself am messing up just as much or MORE. What angers me in others is pride and being prideful is exactly what I am doing. Oh the irony.
Currently, one of my boys is struggling with focusing on how other kids are not washing their hands. He’s obsessed with it because their actions could directly impact him negatively. If someone doesn’t wash his hands and spreads an illness to him, he will have to suffer because of it. He is scared of becoming sick. Maybe that is my problem too. I stress and focus on others who are not doing their job, or cutting in line, or not following rules because I am concerned about how it affects ME. I am afraid of being seen as worthless or all my effort being wasted.
“If they don’t do their job, it falls on me to do it and I will be overworked or stressed.”
“If they cut in line, it makes things take longer for me.”
“If they break the rules, I miss out because I am doing everything I am supposed to and now they have the advantage.”
“If that person breaks the school policy and sends his child to school sick, then it will spread to my kid and we will have to suffer.”
Me, me, me.
Pride. Fear. Self.
I’ll be honest, this is a very difficult thing for me to admit. Being vulnerable by showing others my faults isn’t easy. Confessing that I am being prideful makes me feel too exposed. But being aware of what trips me up, or the sin that so easily entangles, is one step closer to being free of it. Right now, I feel chained to the obsession that things should be fair.
Why am I focused on what’s fair? There is nothing about the Gospel that is fair. I sit here stewing and thinking, “That is just not fair!” when Jesus softly whispers, “My love, do you really want me to be fair?”
Fair would be me dying for my own sin. Fair would be Hell because my sin deserves death. A perfect God should want nothing to do with me because He can’t be part of sin.
The message of the Gospel destroys this self-centered thinking of mine.
Jesus paid for my sin. God did not send Jesus to die for my sins because I’m a hard worker or because I deserved it. He didn’t save me because I am a good person. Jesus chose to give His life for me because of who He is, not who I am. Jesus gave His life because He loves me. He loves me because His nature is caring, forgiving, patient, humble, kind. He forgives me over and over again. Despite my offenses and selfishness, Jesus laid down His own life, for mine.
Who am I to judge? I am not righteous, I am not perfect. And anything less than perfect is sin. Getting angry and focusing on others’ faults is as useless as my boys taking a bath before they go play in the mud. It’s a waste of time and effort. I know people aren’t perfect, so why am I expecting them to be?
I tell you what, it’s exhausting focusing on what bothers you. I would much rather fix my eyes on Jesus, than be fixated on what is fair.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV (emphasis mine)
Lord, help me to run the race before me, my own race. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on You, only You. Remind me daily of your mercy and grace, and help me to pour that out on others. When I am tempted to fixate on what is fair, help me to fix my eyes on You.
So my friends, what are you allowing to keep you captive?