“Precious, precious, precious!” Gollum cried. “My Precious! O my Precious!”
He stepped too far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then with a shriek he fell. ~ The Lord Of The Rings
Back in the day, before I knew better, I snowboarded double black diamonds.
I only got there because I invested a chunk of money and weekends, driving up the slopes to get private one-on-one lessons.
My long-haired, goateed instructor, “Shaun”, would board out in front, to demonstrate how it’s done. Then, he’d give me the 411.
Rule #1: Point your body downhill.
Rule #2: Look at where you want to go.
He’d snowboard behind me, and yell out these two rules over and over. I feebly tried to look cool, while planting my face and eating snow at every fall.
There I was, week after week, with my arms out like a frozen helicopter, trying to will my body down the slopes to follow Rule #1. I’d point my face downhill, but my body pulled back in protest.
Whoosh! My board would slip out from under me. I trusted my instinct more than the instruction.
By far, the hardest habit to break was Rule #2. Once I actually started moving, I was even more afraid.
It’s interesting how, even at great speeds, one notices all the things that can trip you up and make you crash.
I focused on the very things that I wanted to avoid: a bump on the trail, the row of trees to my left and the scariest of all… other people on the slopes.
This continued on for weeks, until Shaun stopped being my buddy. “Bonnie, you have GOT to STOP looking at everything that’s making you fall. Look at ME! Nothing else!”
Shaun peeled out in front of me, stopped at the bottom of the run. He made the peace sign, to point his two fingers at his goggles and signal, “Keep your eyes on ME!”
For better or worse, I told myself, “You’ve got to this, Bonnie. Keep your eyes on him… Or DIE.”
We Run And Fall
Getting rid of our negative character traits can be just as daunting and discouraging.
Don Miller says the key to change is “to simply acknowledge what we are doing and and why, then move on without self judgment”.
It was a thought-provoking approach and I discovered that it’s Biblical, too.
Every day, we start off the day with our best intentions to stop being impatient, don’t be critical, quit worrying.
We end up running into the very things that blows our best efforts.
“It’s spiritual warfare!” We protest. “Not fair!” We fall and trip over the things about ourselves we want to rid.
In far too many cases, we’ve missed the pointers God’s given us about kicking our negative character traits.
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–
think about such things.”
Focus on the positive. It doesn’t say “Beat yourself up. Think of all the terrible things about yourself.”
Ah, that’s too simplistic. Too “spiritual”. It’s like brainwashing myself.
Then, I thought about why I preferred self-judgment.
My unwillingness to abandon focus on faults stems from fear. I’m afraid if I don’t monitor and keep my eye on my imperfections, they’ll take over. And I’ll be bad.
It’s risky to stop trying to improve our faults. God’s direction is oh-so-not comfortable.
Abandon my attempts to fix myself? It feels irresponsible.
That is exactly what God calls us to do. We are no longer slaves to our negative traits. Because of God, we are slaves to our positive traits.
The alternative to letting God do the improvements, is to focus on improving ourselves. It may feel rewarding, but the changes are cosmetic.
God does the real inner changes.
Do we trust that God’s let us off the hook? Will we walk in freedom of all the good He’s put in us?
It’s risky, but I am finding more joy and freedom keeping my eyes on Him, rather than my faults.
I am trying to lean into life, while focusing on everything that is good. I’m steering more from my negative character traits, by seeing more of the positives in myself. And others.
“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves,
but our competence comes from God.”
~ 2 Corinthians 3:5
What are the character traits you’d like to be rid of?
What has helped you avoid self-judgment?
Be sure to stop by Don Miller’s blog and catch his post in its entirety.
Be sure to catch the previous posts on the series Say Yes To Joy: Step 1: After The Rain: Say Yes To Joy Step 2: A Trip For Ice Cream: What Do You Really Want
Photo courtesy of Photobucket.com
[ This is an original Faith Barista post, where Bonnie Gray serves up shots of faith for everyday life. ]