Thursday, March 22, 2012

"You have a little something in your nose..."

I was talking with a girl at the high school the other day. In the midst of our conversation, she took off her head band and reset it on her head. When she did her hair was a bit, shall we say, sticky-uppy. Now, I had just met this girl, so we had no prior relationship. However, I hated the thought of this girl walking through the hallways of school with people snickering behind her back about her sticky-uppy hair. Maybe nobody would have, and I'm the only one who has evil thoughts about the public ridicule of people with sticky-uppy hair, but just in case I told her, "Your's kind of sticky-uppy." So she fixed it, asked me if it was better - which it was - and we went on with our conversation.

I generally try to be the kind of guy who will point out such things as sticky-uppy hair or boogers hanging out of people's noses. Why? Because I'm evil and long to embarrass people by pointing out their foibles? Not usually. But I figure that a true friend will tell someone, "Dude, you have a little something in your nose," to reduce the chances of that friend walking around all day with dried mucus hanging on while others get a good laugh at their expense. In reality, I am trying to save them from further embarrassment and ridicule. And I would hope others would do the same for me.

But I think a lot of people won't do this. I think that they think that they are somehow helping that person save face by not letting them know about their boogers or sticky-uppy hair. Or maybe they are worried that if they say something it will somehow damage the relationship by offending the booger-inflicted. Either way, they are doing a big disservice by saying nothing.

I have lots of boogers in my life. Not a lot in my nose, because I'm quite paranoid about hangers-on. But I have plenty of areas in my life that, if someone doesn't point them out, could cause me more problems down the road. So I need booger-pointer-outers in my life to save me from bigger, more harmful consequences. Having these people will do a few things:

It will keep me humble
Let's face it. I'm awesome. You know it, and I know it. If there's one thing I have no space for in my life it's humility. Like the prophet once said, "Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble / When you're perfect in every way."...Without people in my life who have the permission and feel the freedom to point out my foibles and shortcomings, I run the risk of having this exact attitude. As Timothy Keller notes, "We are more flawed and sinful than we ever dared believe..." Without a dose of humility in my life, I might forget this truth. Jesus' example was one of humility, so that is what I aim for.

It will point out my blind spots
I may think I am treating my wife well, but someone looking at us from the outside may see otherwise. I may think I am being attentive to my kids, but someone who knows me and spends time with us may have a different opinion. I may think that how I talk to people doesn't affect them negatively, but someone listening in may hear something else. I may have character flaws in my life that I simply don't see - like a booger in my nose - but that others do. Ignorance in this case is not bliss. I need to know those blind spots so they don't cause me any worse problems. (Side Note: For advice in avoiding blind spots in your car, see this from Car Talk)

It will make me better
In the long run, I want to be better: a better Christian, a better man, a better husband, a better father, a better youth pastor, a better co-worker, a better friend, a better neighbor. Getting better means eliminating the negative stuff in my life. So a friend who points out my metaphoric boogers is only helping me get to the finish line I want to cross because I am alerted to those things that I need to eliminate.

Who, in your life, is someone who can point out your 'boogers'? If you don't have someone, why not?

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