More than ten years ago, I knew a woman never too prideful to admit error, she was readily willing to say "I'm sorry." But quite frankly, she was usually right. I heard her confess one time, in honest humility, she didn't know what it was like to be wrong a lot; she'd lived life so long in obedience to the expectations of God's word, she averted a lot of mistakes. And because she was right and good, people spoke highly of her, and went to her when they sought biblical counsel or wisdom, receiving assurance of her love and prayers.
Over the years, that woman became accustomed to being right and good. She prayed carefully for others' needs as well as her own, she worshiped God in the fullness of what she knew of him, gradually expanding her understanding of him as he revealed more of himself, but as though "on approval." She had to agree with God's depiction of himself. If she didn't, she ignored that aspect of him because it didn't match her frame of reference. But it didn't really matter, because what she knew of him already was right, and wasn't that sufficient for now?
More than ten years ago, I knew a woman who began to believe her own press. She wasn't intentionally self-righteous, she just couldn't see that a thick film had begun to develop over the eyes of her heart (her conscience, or sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, so to speak). This film was a layer of pride which prevented her from seeing herself with clarity. It wasn't thick enough to blind her, just enough to make her perception hazy. Oddly enough, it didn't really dim her understanding of others, just herself. Like looking into a steam-covered bathroom mirror after a hot shower, she could look around and see others with clarity, but the truth of her own reflection was indiscernible.
She became a champion of "truth" as she saw it; but only to those who "needed" to know. And quite often, she was right to tell; they did need to know. This further validated her "goodness" and caused her to believe she had deep wisdom and insight from God himself.
More than ten years ago, that woman was ... me.
I wish I could say I had a miraculous turning point that instantly dropped the haze from my eyes, but it didn't happen that way. One day was the catalyst for start of my healing, though. Jesus used a friend to ask me a tough question about myself for which I had no answer.
That question prompted a brokenness in my spirit that led me to examine my heart and mind in ways I'd never delved into before. Through a painful process of confession and repentance, I began to allow God to wipe away the steam from the mirror of my life. It wasn't an immediate revelation or recognition, rather it was gradual, like the healing of the blind man in Mark 8:22-25:
Some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around." Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.I think it's interesting that others brought the blind man to Jesus. He couldn't get to him on his own, because he couldn't see. We sometimes need others to get us to Jesus; my friend did that for me. We all need people in our lives who will tell us the honest truth about how far we are from where God wants us.
Also notice Jesus took him outside the village to begin this healing process. Sometimes, we're too close to home to allow God to work effectively in our lives. The noise and distraction of the familiar keeps us in the routine of life and unable to step into a new level of honest self-evaluation. I certainly wouldn't say I can see everything in my own life and character clearly today, but I know that I'm at least seeing "trees" walking around. One day, my eyes will be fully opened: For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).