Dealing With Personal Faults While You Can

Keith KettenringChristian Living, The Uncommon Journey

When a young pastor, I visited an elderly church member at her private assisted living apartment. She didn’t know who I was so our conversation began with introductions and small talk. She’d often zone out, entering a private world detached from her surroundings. As our staggering conversation continued, to my shocking surprise, she’d sometimes yell out, “Damn it, you, damn it!” or “Damn you!” “Damn, damn, damn!” I was rattled and disturbed by her behavior. Yet, there was nothing I could do to stop her. Eventually I prayed with her and left. I’ll never forget it. 

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This may be an extreme example of what I write about today. However, there are plenty of examples of ordinary people who, as they get older, are simply unable to deal with their internal, usually hidden, brokenness.  

Here’s the challenge. Seriously work on your faults, your relational and/or spiritual jaggedness, when you are able because there will come a time when you are unable. 

First, you must know that you have a fault – broken raggedness in your character or foolish passion – before you can work on it. That reminds me of this truth. You struggle to see your faults not because they are small but because they are characteristic. You are blinded to your faults because they are so much a part of your DNA or character not because they are nonexistent.

Seeing yourself for who you really are usually requires an outside perspective. A paid professional like a counselor or a trusted friend or spouse who can speak honestly and be heard openly, are able to help open your eyes to yourself. It is the rare individual who is able on their own to humbly admit to their own faults. Most of us need feedback from others. 

Second, when you honestly admit your brokenness, you better give serious attention to it because when you get older you won’t have the stomach for it. More accurately, you’ll lack the motivation, the emotional and inner energy, necessary to battle your passions and find healing for your brokenness. 

I’ve not studied any research on this. I’ve simply observed older folks. What seems tolerable when they’re younger gets magnified as they get older. Have you seen this, too? 

The majority of us can begin by seriously considering how often we give in to: 

  • Anger
  • Impatience
  • Judgmentalism 
  • Insecurity 

Please don’t quickly read this list and move on. Consider each word and tie it to your own attitude and behavior. You probably (as I do) allow these passions to express themselves in and through you way too often. 

I don’t know about you, but I want to become more kind, loving, patient, and tenderhearted as I get older. However, this transformation will not happen automatically. I’ve got to work at it intentionally while I can. There’s a good chance I’ll work at it the rest of my life. The point is to begin diligently now.  

Perhaps you’ve seen the hurtful, offensive, bitter, crotchety old man (or woman) out there. Maybe he or she lives in your house or the house next door. Let them be the model of what you don’t want to be. You become someone pleasantly and lovingly different. 

Start woking on it now. 

How will you become a more loving, kind, and patient person over the next few months? 

Dr. K