In the words of O’Shea Jackson, “Today was a good day.”
It was emotionally rough, but I can tell that I’m growing. Slowly, day by day, one step at time, I’m getting back to my old self.
Church was essential this week. There were moments I was distracted, but only because I was thinking about how my pastor’s message related to me. Everything about it resonated with what has gone on in my life lately, but especially most recently. Yesterday I got into another text argument with my ex’s ex-wife. She flat-out admitted to me that she’s lied to me to fight for him back, and laughed at me for being so easily swayed. Among many other things, this is all a game to her. She’s so miserable with her life, that she feels the need to make not only his life miserable, but mine as well in order to make herself feel better.
Today’s message at church was a focus on Luke 18:9-14.
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: Two men came up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax collector.” (Luke 18:9-10)
The Pharisee is your average Joe. He’s awesome, he’s a great example, self-righteous, etc. The tax collector is the sinner.
“The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed. ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people- robbers, evildoers, adulterers or even like this tax collector.’ (Luke 18:11) But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:13)
The Pharisee bases his self-righteousness on someone else’s lack of it. He compared himself to others, and thanked Him that he was not like them. As long as he could be better than someone else, he’ll win. He thinks because of who he is, what he’s done, how great he is , that he gets to look down on everyone else like they are nothing. He doesn’t just look down on the tax collector, he despises him.
While the Pharisee was up front, praying openly and out loud, the tax collector stood at a distance, full of shame, anguish, and embarrassment. He is not entitled, strong, or proud of who he was. He knew that he has sinned and failed God. He doesn’t feel like he belongs there, so he asks for His mercy.
As I sat in church reflecting on the message, our pastor asks, “Which one are you?”
I sat there, disappointed. Any other day, I would’ve said I was the tax collector. I’ve always been able to own up to my actions, admit my mistakes/sins, and I’ve always loved my neighbor. I’ve never been an entitled person who thinks they are better than the next. Shoot, I have a whole blog about my struggle with self-esteem. I’ve always acknowledged that I was a work in progress, and I’ve never been afraid to ask God for help.
However, when it came to her, my ex’s ex, I felt the need to fight fire with fire. She was so evil to both my ex and I, that I couldn’t hold back my words. Luckily, I never let my actions overrule my dignity like she did, but I sure the heck let my thoughts. I wanted her to feel the pain. I wanted to let her know how much we despised her, and what her petty actions say about her. I don’t know what exactly came over me, because I’m a firm believer in Karma. I in no way feel like I am above her in the sense that I can hand her her own cold plate of revenge. I will leave that to God. But as of lately, I’ve been the self-righteous Pharisee. I’ve been acting entitled, and rubbing in her face why I am better than her not just as a person/girlfriend, but also because I never let my actions stoop down to her level. I have been so desperate to prove a point.
When my pastor asked, “Which one are you?” I digressed. I reflected on everything I said to her yesterday, and in the past holistically. (Side note, I was first to communicate with her, coming at her with the UP-MOST RESPECT, asking to meet her and her son someday with open arms. It was all down hill from there. She called me every name in the book, and that’s when all the lies and games started.) Regardless, even though I tried to do my part, and I tried to do it the right way, I lost track of my path and my human. I let my pride get in the way of my truth. This message was my wake up call.
“I tell you that this man (tax collector), rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)
As I reflect on this moment in my life, my rock bottom, I am quickly humbled. We face the temptation of looking at people as others instead of looking at them as all of us. I am no better than the next person. I need to just focus on me, and continue to look to God for help. I refuse to engage with anyone’s evil nature anymore. As I sat here and read message after message of her yet again calling me out my name, accusing me of things I didn’t do, I sat my phone down and turned to God. I’ll let you handle that, because I do know my truth. I am many things, but a liar is not one of them. In this moment I have to remind myself to love thy neighbor. Spiritual wholeness comes from a humble recognition of our need for Jesus.
As my pastor said today, those who are humble and repentant, those who find favor and invitation, those who are arrogant and self-righteous, those are who get left out of God’s Kingdom. Today I’ve realized that I have sinned, I’m broken, and I need Jesus to forgive me and take over. I can only hope I am justified in my reflections, and he has mercy to accept me in His Kingdom.
Pastor Brian, thank you for your words today. You’ve opened my eyes, and from this day forward, I can find peace knowing that I am growing. I’m not going to let evilness take over my life, nor will I let this depression. I am better than who I was. I will come out on top. I truly believe in you Lord, and I know you have breakthrough coming for me.