I have often said that I want my career to be about to teaching other people how to think about themselves. I would love help others to think about who they are through how they think about the world, the Bible, and other people, and, most importantly, why they think the way they think. A wise man once said, “The only thing that truth cannot penetrate is a closed mind.” I believe it is vital to teach people how to “see,” to give them a new lens to view the world. No matter how true the information is that I teach, people will not be able to grasp it without unless minds are open to it. I value this about my education at Mount Olive College and Duke Divinity above everything else. Learning to be self-critical has changed my life, what I wear, how I talk, and the trajectory of my most passionate aspirations. I would love the opportunity to return the favor.
Don’t let my romanticism for enlightenment fool you, though; self-criticism sucks. It hurts to discover that I was fundamentally wrong about so many things. Confronting myself actually messed me up quite a bit. During my freshman year at Mount Olive College, I became so angry with myself and the world that I left the church, broke up with my girlfriend (we are married now; thank God she took me back!), and became one of the most arrogant, cynical people you have ever met. A big part of this rebellion was that I saw the injustices of the world around me like never before. Still, what really screwed me up was the realization that I may have been implicated in the same injustices that I blamed on everyone else. I eventually learned to deal with these internal problems, with a few bumps in the road here and there, and with a lot of angry blog post and Facebook arguments. I am mostly on the other side now, and by that I simply mean I am mentally stable (ha!). Honestly, I am still recovering from that time of my life, still learning about and dealing with what I discovered.
It was my personal ideology that scared and still scares me most. It’s easy to be mad with the world because of what it has dealt you and the crimes it has committed, but dealing with yourself, uncovering your mistakes and tainted world-view is most jarring. Although I dealt with a ton of problems as I worked through my own misconceptions, I am proud to say that I didn’t take the other, easier route of brushing it off and locking my monsters in the closest so I didn’t have to deal with them.
Discovering and subsequently refusing to deal with your own personal ideology is similar to a Looney Tunes character who runs off the edge of the cliff – you can keep running even though there is nothing under you; it is only when you look down and realize you have lost your footing that you fall. That is the true danger of self-discovery/criticism. And that is why it is much easier to condemn the other than to deal with the self.
Looking in the mirror is harder than staring through a microscope at others. Discovering your own subliminal horrors is far worse than picking apart the vomit of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh every week. The Apostle Paul was right: we do see in a mirror dimly. Here’s to hoping that our words become the spit that helps clean the mirror off, not the mud that makes it dirtier.
And that’s all folks. . .