Recently I was describing an acquaintance of mine to my husband.
“She’s not a very happy person,” I said. “She’s always complaining about something.”
My husband gave me a sidelong glance and said nothing.
That’s when it hit me; I was describing myself.
In the New Testament, Jesus asks his followers, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
It is so easy to see the faults of others yet very hard to see our own. I like to think of myself as a happy person, but the fact is, I can be very negative. I have complaints about my kids’ schools and teachers, my friends and family members, and myriad strangers who don’t measure up to my standards. And if I’m being honest, I usually see the glass as half empty.
I have heard that if there is something you really hate about a person, it is because you possess that trait and wish you could get rid of it. This makes sense to me. In my family I have my biggest clashes with the children who are most like me. Last school year, I had a problem tolerating one of my children’s teachers. Why? Because she reminded me of myself when I was a young teacher. Looking back, I wonder how parents tolerated me.
My one saving grace is my ability to laugh at myself. When I caught a mirrored glimpse of myself in this negative friend, I laughed. Of course, this gave my husband permission to roll his eyes and say, “Sounds like someone I know. You two could be twins!” This made me howl even more, and I laughed until I cried.
Which was a good thing – because I think it washed that plank out of my eye.