Someone told me something recently that disturbed me; she said most of her friends had a negative opinion about a significant historical figure, not because of anything she’d done, but because she was someone of a different religious denomination. I sat there in the depths of despair for a moment, not merely for that attitude but because it occurs to me that you need a degree of open-mindedness, to be able to even be willing to change your mind. I can write endless wonderful novels about this woman, extolling her virtues, numerous blog posts talking about her incredible faith and virtue… and those people may never read them, because in their mind, she believed wrong, so why bother looking her up?
C.S. Lewis once said our ego is in competition with everyone else’s. I think, in a mindset such as the one addressed above, it’s a combination of ego, bigotry, and laziness, because changing one’s mind requires mental reprogramming… erasing what you thought, which was wrong, and creating a new awareness. (God doesn’t like intellectual laziness any more than any other kind of laziness.) It’s simply easier to dismiss a historical figure, or idea, or belief system, or concept, than it is to take the time to really comprehend it, and form a worldview different from one previously held. And, it takes a degree of humility.
Pride is one of the most difficult things to overcome, since it can find such insidious ways to sink its claws into us (well, I’m sure glad I’m more open-minded than them!). If you hold to a single perspective, without any interest in even considering you might be wrong, you’re drowning in an endless sea of pride, and when others come to give you a hand out, you won’t accept their help, because it requires humility to climb aboard the life raft. I have seen people go down with a proverbial sinking ship, out of an absolute refusal to admit the boat sprung a leak (their argument had flaws, their worldview is wrong, etc).
One of my friends says he believes Christians should rush toward humility with open arms, to be ready to publicly admit in an instant they were wrong, often and without shame. This goes against my very nature; if I am wrong, I’d rather no one knew the truth – my pride doesn’t want to admit my own wrongness, so it causes me to hide, rather than step forth and humble myself with a public confession.
And yet, I am wrong so often, about so many things. You could build an immense tapestry of my “wrongness” before you could find a single thread of my “rightness.” I have not a sweet little furry ego that sits upon my shoulder, cuddling me on cold winter nights, but a mammoth monster that drags me behind it, holding its leash, snarling when others get to close to discovering that I am not, in fact, a god. Instead of humble myself, I let the beast rage then go home to lick my wounds alone in a closet, nursing deep doubts about the “rightness” of my stance, utterly humiliated, but often unwilling to admit it. And, I imagine, the Good Lord looks down upon me with a father’s indulgent smile, shaking His head, thinking, “Charity, when will you just admit that you’re not me?”
I’m not You, but a tiny, fractured little piece of my ego sure wants to be You.