OPS, it stands for “other people’s selfishness,” and the “S” word used there is not necessarily “selfishness.”
I have wrestled with this dragon for as long as I can remember. Half a century later I am winning in the sense that I have not yet been set on fire and eaten alive. There were some close calls and I sometimes feel like the Black Knight from a Monty Python skit. For those who don’t get the reference, it’s dark comedy, the knight loses his arms, his legs, but still fights on, just hopping around and whacking at people with his head…
I have certainly been down for the count, like literally, woman down, on the kitchen floor making snow angels in the sand and grit there, watching the pink palm trees sway in the tropical breeze. My family, bless their heart, did not even notice, because selfishness.
Because I like to do all dysfunction whole heartedly, like an extreme water sport or something, like an Olympic level competition, I married a man who had 15 brothers and sisters, and a mom who worked full time, and still managed to cook them all meals made from scratch. She was my best friend, because she really understood the whole nature of OPS and those of us afflicted with it. She was like one of those spiders, the kind that hatches thousands of babies who proceed to just eat her from the inside out, nourishing themselves on the flesh she has left behind.
Somebody smart once said, “the blood of a woman is not enough to save anyone.” Those are some powerful words and I’ve had to preach them to myself darn near everyday. I believe them, they are 100% true, but I still think, I know, I know, but what if I just give a tiny bit more? Try a little bit harder? Maybe…?
When I was very young another brilliant person once told me, “What if you aren’t actually depressed or anxious or neurotic or insane, what if you are just surrounded by really toxic people? What if you are just responding to complete dysfunction in a completely reasonable and healthy manner given the circumstances?”
What if it isn’t you at all?
I’m reluctant to state such things because the world is plumb full of selfish people blaming everyone else for their problems. I don’t want to nurture anymore of that sort of thing, but the world also has people in it like me and my lovely mother in law, the Spider Women who have been eaten from the inside out, consumed by OPS, a feast cheered on perhaps, by a dragon who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.
There’s a really good verse in the Bible that describes sin, in James 4:17, that says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” Forgetting that you matter is a sin. Failing to protect yourself from the selfishness of others is a sin. Not paying attention to the fact that you are a pearl of great price, that the Lord made a tremendous investment in you, is a sin. Falsely believing that the blood of a woman is enough to save anyone is a sin.
And sin is not a rock to pick up and lug around, nor to whack yourself over the head with, nor to build a wall of shame around, but rather a burden you are now free to set down at the foot of the cross.