Matthew 12:36-27 “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
I used to interpret these words of Jesus to mean that some time in the distant future I would stand before God and listen to Him remind me of ugly and stupid things that I had said and done in my life. But now think that one dimension of the “judgment of God,” occurs at those moments when “reality” confronts me with the lunacy of a particular vein of thought that has preoccupied me, influencing my speech and my behavior. Some of these “judgments,” especially from my youth, still make me cringe with the realization, “How could I have said that? How could I have done that!” Sometimes the angst is so intense it is even visceral. These are my “Rick Perry moments” when I realize I had completely made an ass of myself; and, yes, I often respond with Perry’s famous, “Oops.” For, our words reveal what is going on in our hearts, that unconscious domain which we can never “know” in the sense of “wrapping out head around it.” But these “Rick Perry moments” have helped me to learn that this region of my heart is ever present and offers many opportunities to learn something about myself.
The Republican Party in the U.S. Congress is currently being exposed to this same “judgment of God” as the “The Letter” they impulsively wrote to Iran is being deemed “ill-advised” by many. Some of those who signed this letter are voicing second thoughts about the decision and criticism from outside the GOP echo chamber is mounting. But having “second thoughts” about our thoughts, words, and deeds, individually and collectively, is part of being a human and the self-reflection can lead to modifying one’s agenda. This is listening to “reality” rather than stubbornly and blindingly continuing on a course of action or with a vein of thought simple because it is too painful to acknowledge to oneself and others, “Oops! I was wrong.” This simple self-reflection is a God-given neurological gift if we have the courage to use our forebrain to monitor old-brain impulses. But for those moments when we fail to do so, we have the T. S. Eliot wisdom, “Oh the shame of motives late revealed, and the awareness of things ill-done, and done to others harm, which once we took for exercise of virtue.”
The unconscious fear of being exposed is intrinsic to human nature. But I have learned that the pain is more bearable since I found the courage to acknowledge that I always have so much I’m hiding and that when bits of it surfaces I should see it as a gift, albeit a painful gift! I think it was Ranier Rilke that said, “The heart has its beastly little treasures.” The God-given gift of self-reflection makes the moments of vulnerability less intense and allows me to say, “Oh there you go again, being human!”
Having the “thoughts and intents of our heart” exposed often evokes the feeling of being “wrong.” But this feeling of being “wrong” is ok as we are all only human and will always find ourselves subscribing to ideas that are self-serving and ultimately counter-productive for everyone. But when we are trapped in our ideas…when we are ideologues…we are so invested in our ideas that we cannot allow them to be modified by the feedback of others. People who cannot acknowledge and experience this fear of being wrong, i.e. the “judgment of God,” will likely spend their lives projecting their anguish onto others, seeing the “wrong” out there and often seeking to obliterate it. As psychologist Martha Beck noted, “You spot it, you got it!” People obsessed with attacking and condemning others for being “wrong,” are merely diverting their attention from the painful challenge of the Apostle Paul to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
AN AFTERTHOUGHT—Well, the Apostle Paul’s suggestion is a good one but after thinking about it, I’ve decided, “Bah humbug! I’m gonna continue to blame those dang Republicans!!! Listen, I’m “preaching” here and don’t think I should have to “practice what I preach!”
(For more info on the backlash the Republicans are experiencing, see the following link—http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/14/gop-iran-letter-criticism_n_6868398.html)