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Saturday, November 12, 2016

when winning is a problem

I love being right.

Ask my husband.

Part of this is the fact that I am married to a professional, a man who takes detail seriously and who has a brain that is just geared to get things right. So we have an ongoing joke about the times I win and can say "I'm right" and he has to agree. It's wonderful.  :)

I also love debating.

Again, ask my husband.

I delight in the repartee and the convincing, the using of words as swords to cut to the point and then to force one's opponent to acknowledge the "right" opinion. At family gatherings, my brother Jim and I are very apt to engage in this verbally violent pastime. (BTW, Thanksgiving is coming. . !)However, we do love each other, respect the other's intellect and viewpoint and have never stopped speaking to each other, well. . . at least, not yet. (smile)

I'm guessing a lot of you are like me. And that we also share in common a liking for the feeling of vindication that comes when something we hold dear that has long been scorned is proven to be a force after all. It's a kind of soft revenge that gets all mixed up with winning, overcoming obstacles and triumphing over evil. Some of my more dangerous emotional leanings can become so enmeshed in the fracas of fighting for what I believe to be morally right that I am unaware of the real attitude of my heart.

All of these things would qualify me to be a legal prosecutor probably, but I don't have that calling. I am a woman, a wife, a mom, a Christian living in a world where being right is often a badge the other side wears.

That gets old. Inside, I'm frequently thinking, "Okay, it's our turn. Why do we have to wait until the Judgement Day to be exonerated, led from the corner, given proper respect? When is our day coming, like the one ole Mordecai had on the king's horse?"

Those days are rare, almost nonexistent.

But, they occasionally happen.

And I'll just confess that it's hard for me to be Christ-like when I'm proven right. When I'm being ridiculed or dismissed or ignored, at least I can practice showing a gentle spirit, suffering for righteousness sake. But when I'm proven right, the lion of justice roars to life within me, lunging against the restraints of the Spirit. I can see all the flaws of others so clearly. I feel a bit of smugness growing like yeast in a bowl of warm water. And I don't even have to be totally right; it just has to look like I'm right.

I guess the truth is that I do more good when I'm serving rather than exulting. As a mortal with all the foibles and tendencies thereof, I am just not prepared to handle too much victory unless it's in the area of overcoming sin. God's people are to triumph by humility, mercy and love. Delight in "I told you so" looks very little like Jesus and more like the world around us.

Should we then be comfortable with and desire defeat? No, for it is not the victory which is a detriment, but rather the perception of what the victory says about me, my regard for being right rather than for relationship. When I care most about others doing penance, when I insist on full use of my memory whiteboard rather than the eraser of mercy, when I relish the comeuppance of those I have defeated, I am not being like Him. Even if it is only words and not action, it's still a problem. Remember, in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ declared that what is taking place in the heart is the issue, not just what the body is doing.

Christians should be the best in the world at moving on and working for the good. We take our injustice and our soapboxes to the Lord and exchange them for an olive branch. Retribution and ultimate satisfaction in achieving victory belong to Him, who though King of Kings and Lord of Lords, spent His earthly life being a servant. That's a good pattern for my time on earth as well.

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