And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. -Mark 10:18
I really love that verse. I actually have an issue, a trigger with those who call themselves “good,” especially guys, so Jesus Christ’s words there are like balm for my soul, almost as if they were written just for me. Very sweet.
I grew up under atheism and one of the issues is that they sometimes believe people are good, our empathy gene, our reason, makes us moral. You take that mindset out into the real world with you where people are acting like, well “people,” and it creates this kind of cognitive dissonance. You encounter greed, envy, malice, and you blame yourself, you think you’re perceiving reality wrong, you blame the culture. You blame anything but “sin” because “sin” doesn’t exist.
One of those guys who did not think he was good, once saved me from a whole lot of future misery. I spouted the standard line, “all people are just good people who sometimes do bad things,” and he laughed outright. No, they’re all totally depraved, deeply perverse, self-absorbed, and they do bad things because they enjoy it…..
Whoah! It was a totally different mindset, but it began to make a certain amount of sense. I could look back and go, oh yes, now I understand, that wasn’t me at all, that was just someone’s envy permeating the whole situation. Suddenly I could see sin very clearly and it wasn’t always my own, in fact, it frequently wasn’t me at all.
I sometimes joke about how awesome it was, how wonderful to discover…. the total depravity of mankind. Really funny, because just thinking about something so awful is enough to put a smile on my face today. It’s not the sin state of mankind that makes me laugh, but the beauty of the Truth and how it makes all the puzzle pieces start to fit together.
I actually went on to marry a guy who did not believe he was good either. What a blessing that has been. He’s rather honest and unapologetic about it, without much guile at all. So he was two hours late for dinner once and I demanded to know why he didn’t think of my feelings. So he quite innocently said, “I wasn’t thinking of your feelings at all. I didn’t care. I was busy enjoying myself.”
Ha! That’s really appalling if you think about it, but it didn’t feel that way at all. It felt emotionally validating. Honest. Vulnerable. I already knew he didn’t care about my feelings at the time or he would have been there. It’s kind of funny, but that is exactly what I needed to hear. Not an apology even, but just an acknowledgment, like, “oh yeah, I was being a jerk.” Soooo, so validating.
Defensiveness, excuses, apologies, explanations, these things all feel very crazy making to me. I don’t respond well to them. I like the truth. In fact, the truth said with some humility and honesty is enough to melt my heart. I can empathize with being a jerk. A jerk is a totally understandable part of the human condition. Completely forgivable. You’re a jerk…. awesome, I’m a jerk too sometimes. Now see, this is a match made in heaven. We should become BFF’s. That really is how my brain works.
My marriage would not have survived two minutes if I had married a guy who thought he was good. I know this because today in bloggerville in about four different places I’ve encountered the Guys Who Think They Are Good, and I just want to put them all in my giant catapult and fling them off the planet….