Sunday, October 26, 2008

Reaction (4 and 5 of 7)

I'm very reactive. 

I think, as people who follow Jesus, we're called to be proactive.  But I tend to be reactive.  It's kind of like Risk Management (the field I work in).  The whole point in Risk Management is not just to be reactive to Issues or Problems - things that are already happening, that you can't prevent and have to fix.  The whole point is to be proactive and figure out the Risk (a Problem that hasn't happened yet) and prevent it before it rears up it's ugly head and bites you in the...

Anyway, I'm reactive.  I spend a lot of time reacting to what other people say and do; reacting to my circumstances in the world, reacting to things that happen that are out of my control. Even in my spiritual walk - I wait until I see or hear something bad or wrong, then I jump on it.  Actually, that's why this blog is called Jim's Running Commentary.  Because I seem to have a commentary on everything, and just made it my outlet to complain or say "what the heck?" when I see something I think is off. Instead of "going about doing good", I just look for the bad and talk about how it needs to be fixed.  Two problems there. The first is just reacting to the bad (which I understand is part of what we need to be doing - look at how many times Jesus and Paul corrected something that was wrong), but you have to be doing good in parallel with fixing the bad.  And the second part of the problem is just talking about what needs to be fixed, and not actually doing anything.

But being reactive isn't just in my spiritual life.  I've talked about how I'm reactive in my health habits.  How I'm reactive in judging people.  How I'm reactive when something sets me off. Things just bug me. It's a deeply ingrained part of my personality.  I talked about this with Krista the other day, proud that it was this amazing new self-analysis that I did that made me realize something new about myself that wasn't obvious to me.  She was borderline shocked that this could be any kind of revelation to me.  She said I've been like that ever since we've met (17 years now!), wondering how often has it been that I don't give people a chance because I think they're obnoxious, or stuck up, don't like their attitude, or something else moronic.

It's almost like I look for the bad in everything and let that color my life. And it's such a part of me, I don't think I can switch it off.

Well, I can't by myself.  It's the kind of thing that takes a lot of prayer, a lot of love, a lot of soul searching, a lot of help.

You know, I've been doing some reading on the seven deadly sins.  And something I've found interesting was that Sloth was not just intended to be avoidance of work and effort or getting by with doing as little as possible or not living up to your potential.  Writings from St. Thomas Aquinas and Pope St. Gregory I (St. Thomas talks about it in his Summa Theologica, and references Gregory's writings) include sorrow and despair and not caring about things. It's kind of like depression - you start to wear this groove in your brain by finding the bad in everything, and it feeds on itself until you don't care for anything and you feel hopeless like there's nothing you can do; and there's nothing you want to do. I'm sure to do it justice, this needs to be a more in-depth discussion, but I just don't feel like it, now.

Ha! That's a joke, in case you didn't know.

Actually, this post would be way too long to go into it too deeply. But how often do we feed ourselves in this matter.  Don't get me wrong - I believe there's a point in depression where you just can't fix it yourself and need professional help - I know; I've been there. But there's something warm and cozy about that melancholy place that makes it hard to leave, sometimes, even when you can.

And it seems like Sloth is linked directly to Envy (well, St. Thomas links it to all the Deadly Sins).  When I'm finding the bad in everything, I can't even see the good in it when good things happen to other people.  Do you ever react like that? Asking, why do they get that?  Why do they deserve that?  Why can't I have that?  They already have more than me, and look, now they're getting more!  Of course, I forget to look around and see how blessed I am.  It's hypocritical, really.

Good grief - what's up with that?  I can't even celebrate when good things happen to good people.

I know it takes a lot of hard work to reverse deeply ingrained habits, but that's what I've got to work on doing.  It's easy to say, "that's just the way I am." But I have a feeling that particular attitude won't stand up before God.

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