This morning someone shared with me a story about a man who made a mistake, a poor choice that has wrecked his life. Because of his decision he’s lost most of what gave meaning to his existence. What he did had major negative consequences for him, his family, friends and community.
Now he’s lost. He’s been repentant, admitted his wrongs and has taken full responsibility for everything. Unfortunately this hasn’t fixed the myriad of problems, healed much of the hurt and his and other’s wounded hearts seem unable to recover.
“When you pick up one end of the stick you pick up the other.”
In life there are decisions we make that have far reaching implications for us, those we love and things we treasure. These ramifications can be positive or negative and we bear the responsibility whatever they may be.
Wisdom teaches us the importance of thinking things through, being wary of impulsiveness and never forgetting our thoughts, words and actions are like throwing stones into a still pond. Once the stone is released we cannot get it back, control the size of the splash, number of ripples nor how far they reach.
I had breakfast with a friend this morning and the conversation shifted to difficult people who inhabit our lives. We both agreed that some of the most contentious, complicated and frustrating folks are those who are focused on others and not self aware enough to discover and admit their own problems. They talk about others as a way of avoiding their own inner journey. They cause problems by gossiping, outright lying, attempting to control others or try to destroy another’s life or livelihood through nefarious means.
Each of us have people in our lives who are either unwilling or unable to truly see themselves. Looking deep within ourselves, coming to grips with our egos, biases, ugliness and evil takes courage. It is a path that can only be traveled through humility and honesty. It’s easier to look at everyone else, every day, for all our lives, than to see who we really are even for a moment.
“The teacher appeared again and the people gathered around him as he sat down to teach them. The educated ones brought in a woman caught having sex with a man not her husband. They humiliated her by making her stand before everyone. They said to the teacher, “This woman was caught in the act of adultery. We’ve been taught to stone such women! What do you say?” The teacher knelt in the dirt and began writing on the ground with his finger. After a moment he looked up and said; “If any of you are without sin throw the first stone, then the rest can join in.” The teacher looked down again. Silently the accusers began to slowly walk away, one at a time, until only the teacher and the woman were left. He stood up and asked, “Where are your accusers? Is there no one left to throw even one stone at you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Neither will I.” he said. “Go now and live a life worthy of being saved.” The Gospel of Saint John, chapter 8
We throw stones because people watch the stone instead of the one who threw it. When we become aware of our own sin, weaknesses, habits and hangups, we’ll be unable to judge others because we’re able to truly see ourselves.