December 12, 2007

Looking in the Mirror

When you look in the mirror do you like what you see? I don’t mean your physical appearance, because we all wish at one time or another that our hair was straighter or longer; our eyes were a different color; our nose was smaller; or our you-know-what was even smaller than our nose! No, I mean do you like who you are as a person? Do you like what you are putting out for others to see and be at the receiving end of?

I am not always happy with what I see. I can be judgmental. I can run out of patience. I can be rude. I know we all struggle with these and other things, but I can only take responsibility for myself and my actions.

The other day I was finishing up our Christmas shopping and as I got into what was one of the longest lines I have seen in a long time, a woman brazenly cut in front of me. Now logic told me that my wait in line was not going to be lengthened a significant amount of time because she was only one person, but logic takes a back seat in moments of being wronged! While I was polite in that I did not rebuke her for her wrong-doing, I was completely rude with the dagger eyes I tried to pierce into the back of her head the whole time I stood behind her. Yes, she was wrong to cut in line, but I was just as wrong to glare at her.

In the end, my dagger eyes did not remedy my aggravation or cause this woman to kindly apologize and allow me to get back in my rightful place in line. No, instead it just fueled in me a need to tell her off and make her feel bad. But what good would that do? Is that what this world needs more of- others putting people in their place and making them feel bad?

My name, Justine, means “full of justice” and I have found that this is the most appropriate definition for me. I have really grown into its meaning over the years. I have a strong sense of justice; of wanting to right wrongs; of wanting people to experience the consequences of their actions, especially when their actions have caused harm to another. But, and this is not all too surprising, being “full of justice” can take a negative turn when it becomes vengeful and allows no room for mercy and grace. I have to find the balance in being "full of justice.”

Two years ago I met that challenge the hardest I can remember through a person I worked with and the wrongs I saw they were afflicting on others. I primarily stayed in the mindset of “bring this person to justice and make them pay for what they have done,” but it wasn’t until a year later that I realized that I was wrong in my thinking. In my pursuit of wanting to bring this person to justice I left no room for mercy and grace for them; I left no room to love this person.

I have had to learn to love mercy, grace, and forgiveness more than I love the pursuit of justice. I still desire justice when wrongs- big and small- have been done, but I am learning how to align my need for justice with God’s wisdom and command that we love one another just as we love ourselves. It’s hard- I’m not going to lie- but I am liking more what I see in the mirror when I do things His way.

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