Seeing yourself, owning your guilt

It’s sometimes painful to look in the mirror.

Anyone who knows me can attest that I do a lot of self-reflection, sometimes way too much.

There are a lot of reasons I do it, and one of the least important of those is because I don’t like to be blindsided by my own culpability when it comes to mistakes in relationships.

It’s ridiculously humbling that, despite my best efforts, there are still times when I become conscious of just how many problems in my past (and present) really are my fault.

Few of us like to admit we’re the bad guys in the story of our lives, at least beyond acknowledging superficial mistakes. We all hope that we are the heroes in our own tale.

I was brought to my knees emotionally yesterday when I became aware that some of the most painful events in my life were, actually, largely my own fault instead of the fault of the other in the relationship.

Beyond even romantic relationships, I saw for the first time how I sabotaged myself in my immaturity in several different situations by trying in an awful way to gain more personal attention.

This has flipped my understanding of the narrative of my life in a lot of ways.

My heart is crying as I now have a fuller understanding of how I’ve hurt others through my own ignorance and immaturity. The mistakes I’d long assumed were primarily others are, in fact, largely my own.

I’ve pushed people away by my terrible attempts to draw them closer and by my reactions to their responses. How I expected anything different, I don’t know.

The hard thing is it wasn’t intentional – I had no conscious idea that I was behaving in uniquely harmful ways: there was an argument going on, after all, so isn’t all fair in love and war?

No, it isn’t.

The shame is still raw and fresh, so in my mourning at owning the broken pieces of my life, in many ways I don’t know what to do.

I know to say I’m so sorry to those I’ve hurt – I have no excuse. I should have known better. You deserved better.

And I must repent before God for my hubris, for presuming that my life has been more about me than about others.

Father, forgive me – I did not know what I’d done.

This is of course a major part of the Christian narrative, what it means to say that we are all sinners in need of a loving and redeeming God – it means we are all broken people, often in ways that we are unaware of.

And if we are honest with ourselves, there should be many times within our lives in which we have moments like these, where we become more attuned to the intricacies of our own brokenness, so that we can allow God in to heal them.

It’s incredibly hard as I can currently attest, and it is painful and – in my case – personally humiliating that one who considers himself so self-aware could be so blind.

But anyone who would hope to grow as a person and not repeat the same mistakes their entire life must own their own baggage and give it to God to fix.

And never be too proud to admit your mistakes and say “I’m sorry.”

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