It’s NOT that we think we’re great! Instead we’re simply certain we’re not so bad! We don’t rape, we don’t shoplift, we don’t hold up banks! So even though we get inklings there might be some spiritual and moral issues that maybe we should investigate… but what’s the hurry? After all we’re not so bad! Until we discover something unexpected about ourselves! Here’s a short story you’ll enjoy which illustrates what I’m hinting at!
Fred, Joe and Jack all die at the same moment and appear together at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter tells them they are welcome to come in but there is one rule that they must never break or there will be consequences… “You must never step on a duck.” The three men think this is a pretty weird rule but it’s Heaven so how bad could the punishment be? They step in and “QUACK!” Jack immediately steps on a duck! St. Peter returns with Jack’s third-grade teacher, chains them together and Jack goes off into eternity being whacked by her with a ruler! One more step and “QUACK!” Joe steps on a duck! St. Peter returns with Joe’s high-school bully, chains them together and Joe goes off to spend eternity being beaten-up! Fred proceeds with great caution but eventually “QUACK!” St. Peter returns with the most gorgeous woman Fred has ever seen and to his delight chains her to him. “WOW,” Fred exclaims excitedly! “I have NO idea what I ever did to deserve this!” The woman replies, “I don’t know about you but I stepped on a duck.”
So what to do after discovering we are regarded as someone else’s punishment, or we find out we weren’t invited to a party, or when we realize that others find us lacking? Are we even aware of how the world views us or does our assumption that “we’re not so bad” prevent us from actually knowing ourselves? How about if we presume “we’re not so good” and then look for areas we can improve? A problem with this approach is our culture tells us we should never feel bad about ourselves, even if we are a chainsaw murderer! If we presume we might need some improvement then we may be greatly surprised by what we discover about ourselves that’s “not so HOT!”