Saturday, January 9, 2016

Boxed In

“A fool hath no delight in understanding but that his heart may discover itself.” (Prov.18:2)

People who are all wrapped up in themselves make very small packages, indeed; so it goes without saying, it doesn’t take long to reach boredom in their company. This is because such a person (the verse calls him a fool) is always trying to “find himself,” while never seeking to understand anyone else and what their needs or ideas may be. With this man or woman, you can always be sure that no matter what the topic of conversation may be, he or she will find a way to bring the subject back to himself or herself. Nor, it would seem, does it matter if they are praised or criticized, so long as they are recognized.

Those who are thus inclined (and we all are from time to time) are in danger of always judging things within the prism of their own experience. It’s hard to “think outside the box,” when we are the all-important box. One of the most important tools for discernment is the art of disassociation. Being able to divorce oneself from the situation, so as to allow others the same importance and uniqueness we wish for ourselves. It’s one thing to empathize; it’s quite another to epitomize. “I, myself am a perfect example of what you’re saying…” I realize this ability to disassociate oneself is never completely possible for any of us, but for the self-absorbed, it’s a virtual impossibility.

Another sad consequence of this fault (besides being an irritation to others) is that while they are always trying to better themselves, “boxed-in” people never seem to be able to rise above themselves. Whoever we are most occupied with—whoever dominates our perception and reasoning—is the one we are going to resemble the most (Prov. 23:7a). Are you picking up the vicious circle here? The end is a narcissistic introspection that only perpetuates itself. No wonder the writer of Hebrews encourages us in chapter twelve to look away from ourselves and “unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” It’s possible to spend your whole life zeroing in on the wrong person.

I know Plato said, “Know thyself,” but I refuse to be boxed in; I’ve set my sights a whole lot higher:


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