A New Practice: See It, Do It

A couple of months ago, I was in a waiting room and stumbled across a great magazine article. (Several Google searches later, I still can't find the piece or the writer's name, so if this rings a bell, please help me give correct attribution!)

The author was talking about people who drive you crazy-- and how, as a general rule, if we notice something aggravating, it's because we do it, too. She suggested, when someone is driving you clean out of your gourd, that you write them a letter clearly outlining the obnoxious things that they do, and why you don't like the behavior.

Don't mail it.

Scratch out their name.

Substitute your own.

I tried it recently. I felt pretty anxious when I started (no kidding, right?), but set the timer for 15 minutes (because I can do scary things if it's only for a finite period of time). I tried to be as honest as possible (despite knowing that honesty was likely to bite me in the butt in a matter of minutes).

Here's what I noticed: I definitely do some of the things that annoy me in others. BUT, reading about it wasn't the terrible flogging I anticipated. Don't get me wrong, even as I was scrawling across the page, I thought to myself, "Well, crap." But the bigger feeling was gratitude, because I can't change something until I can see it.

I don't want to live a life where I fool myself into smugness and self-satisfaction. Discomfort is hope, because it's an indication of an unseen possibility, an opportunity to become more than I am right now. Jesus's command to take the log out of my eye first is not just a reprimand, but an invitation and encouragement. It's exciting to me when someone things I can be more than I am, and God always thinks that. This exercise is a great way to stay conscious of God's ongoing invitation to be more.


  1. My default setting seems to be "never enough" and it's a challenge to see the invitation and encouragement to be more than I am as a good thing. But maybe we are always "enough" for God's love, and we are not starting from a deficit that we must somehow make up.

  2. Margaret, I have a very different take on that (one which I keep meaning to write about...), but I certainly respect where you're coming from.

  3. Discomfort is hope, I may use those words in an award speech this coming Friday


"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins