February 11, 2022
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — 
God’s good, pleasing and perfect will." 
Romans 12:2

One of the things that annoys me most is when people don’t use their blinker. 
It is the one thing in a car that is actually put there as a courtesy to other drivers.
It’s purpose – by design – is to signal to others that you are moving over.
To help keep them (and you) safer on the road.
So when people don’t use it, I get mad. 

Perhaps like you, I am not always the most kind when I am mad.
On my worst day, I might find myself yelling in the car at thin air, 
or honking my horn aggressively.
I am not proud of it.
But most of the time, if someone were to call me on my behavior in that moment, my response would be: Well, did you see what they did?! They were the jerk here.
I’d try to justify my response because of something they did. 

When I think about the “patterns” of this world that Paul warns us about in Romans, this is one of the ones I think about. 

Our propensity to justify our behavior. 
To deflect responsibility by making a series of cascading assumptions
or judgments about the character of someone else.
When the reality is that they are only a part of what happened in that moment.
The other part was me. 

The reality is I grew up in a family that was not always mindful of extending simple courtesies… 
And that could hurt.
The reality is I have been in multiple, relatively serious accidents throughout my life…
And they were scary.
The reality is the last time I got mad at someone for it, there were 13 other things that went wrong
Right before I got in the car and so my temper was already paper thin.

Do you get where I’m headed?
Often, when I find it most difficult to extend compassion toward someone else…
It is because there is something… or a series of somethings’ going on in me.
And usually, they have nothing to do with the person I am so mad at.

Each of us are people made up of our own stories, histories, relationships, interactions, and learned behaviors. And all of these contribute to our reactions toward others. Getting in touch with who we are – our mistakes, our wounds, our hopes, our disappointments – and learning to manage them, accept them, or heal from them is ultimately how we learn to turn toward others in their mistakes, wounds, hopes, and disappointments. 

We don’t have to judge ourselves harshly in these moments. Just acknowledge it… our role in the situation. Compassionately remind yourself that no one is perfect. Seek forgiveness where it may be necessary. And move forward having learned something about who you are and the journey toward transformation that you are on.

Learning who we are is the first step in breaking the patterns of this world that judge everyone else so harshly — and leaning into our own transformation instead. 

Learning to see and love ourselves – in the good, the bad, and the ugly – is the first step toward growing in compassion. 

Is there an interaction or reaction you had this week that you weren’t proud of?
What was happening in you?
Can you forgive yourself and move forward?

Pastor Kate