Monday, November 7, 2016

Martyr and Messiah: Two Sorry Self-Perceptions

I spilled a glass of juice on my desk this morning. Some dripped onto the Oriental rug below. I sopped it up with masses of toilet paper. While incidental, the event awakened twin false prophets in my head. They whisper bad thoughts. Today, they sounded something like this: Is this what I get for getting up early to pray? And, Who put that laptop there?
Perhaps some context will help. I spend my mornings at this desk, setting out a glass of juice, journal, candle, Bible, and prayer guide. This study area and sanctuary sits in a dark corner of the basement. Usually the surface of my desk remains clear until I arrive. Occasionally the children have had a spark of inspiration, cluttering my work station with inspirational debris. (Why don't kids typically have sparks of organization?) And sometimes my has wife moved her laptop to my desk to print something.

This morning the desk was cluttered, but the lights were out and I didn't notice until I set my cup down. I placed it on the edge of the computer. It toppled. Out came Strawberry-Banana smoothie, followed several minutes of cleaning and many thoughts of blame and pity.

These thoughts harass me more than I would like to admit. I envision a miniature Messiah-me perched on one shoulder and a miniature Martyr-me on the other. Messiah-me says, "You are always right. It is not your fault." Martyr-me says, "You do so much. You deserve better. You are a victim." Neither of these voices offers a healthy self-perception. 
The Messiah-me cannot take blame, but only shifts it. He is always in the right. If there is a wrong, it belongs to another. Messiah-me cannot be late; his family makes him late. Messiah-me cannot overdraw the checking account; it was all the other spenders in the house or a banking error. Messiah-me is incapable of being too harsh or unreasonable; the children or serviceman deserved it. Messiah-me makes me sick; I am infected.

Unfortunately, Martyr-me is no better. She is the constant victim, never getting the credit she deserves, tirelessly serving and thanklessly giving. Martyr-me is the first one to rise and last one to retire in the home, but rarely gets a minute of rest. Martyr-me seems eager to listen but cannot find an audience for her stories and complaints. Martyr-me forgoes her self-care, personal goals, and right to the bathroom to make sure everyone else gets a good start to their day. Martyr-me wears me out; I am exhausted.* 

Not only are these false prophets incipient, they are ironic. They speak often and so close to the truth. Martyr-me makes sacrifices, but is more self-focused than self-forgetful. Messiah-me shows leadership, but is more self-righteous than others-oriented. One wants pity, the other awards blame, but they both vie for my attention.

After cleaning up the spill and silencing these voices, I turned my focus to Jesus the true Messiah and Martyr. I spilled my guts to Him. He cleaned up my mess. He always does.

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*NOTE: A month into our post-adoption adjustment, Liz and I played "The Martyr Game" where we took turns sharing our sacrifices, tallying the points, and feeling simultaneously justified and disgusting. It is a dangerous game; we have not played since.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

This reminds me of this video acting out a Brené Brown story: https://vimeo.com/117375823