I was reminded of something startling this past week. It took me by surprise when the truth hit me once again. I woke up the other morning, looked into the mirror and watched myself brush my teeth. But after a few minutes of reflection and a closer look, I discovered that behind the Colgate covered overbite and the bloodshot morning eyes, there were more than one me looking out from the glass. In fact, there are several of Me and I could see them all so very clearly!
You may have met some of Me before. They come around from time to time.
My favorite Me is the Good Neighbor Me. This is the guy who checks on the family two doors down because he knows they need some help. He asks how people are coping in the midst of their unemployment or illnesses. He shovels their snow when their backs are bad or mows their yard when the heat is high. This is the guy who knows just when to say hello and just when to let it go. He offers a nice wave and a cheerful smile in the morning as you pull out of your drive on the way to work or in the evening as you return home. The Good Neighbor Me is a swell guy.
There is also the Good Christian Me. This guy remembers to call his buddy to see how the interview went, or how his grandmother is doing after the surgery. He will stop by the hospital to say a short prayer or write a letter of concern, quoting scripture passages that offer peace and hope. He is aware of your needs and will do anything to make your life better. He opens his home for group activities and quietly listens as you share your deepest hurt and pain. Good Christian Me remembers birthdays and asks for updates on sensitive issues at just the right time. He is a class act.
Then there is the Good Dad Me. This is the best guy in the whole world, especially when he is fully available for his kids and their friends. He loves his children and listens intently, allowing wisdom to speak through the silence and knowing just when to enter the picture or to step out of the way. Good Dad Me is a comforting presence when tears run down sad cheeks late at night. He is a strong shoulder to lean on when the world presses in from every side. He is firm but never cruel. He is gentle but never soft. He is humorous but never embarrassing. Dr. Phil would be proud of this guy.
I like these guys and I like it when they show up. They are wonderful people and it would benefit everyone if they would come around more often.
But every so often another guy makes an appearance. This final guy is my least favorite. He comes from the same body, the same mind, and the same heart but he lives a different life. It is a life of anger, selfishness and pride. The other guy is the Selfish Bastard Me.
Selfish Bastard Me wants his own space, his own time, and his own things. He does not want to share his tools, his money, or his food. He is highly critical of others and their motives while completely unaware of his own purpose. He quickly frustrates and grows angry at the petty problems of others. Every time the phone rings, he is convinced it is just another needy person requiring his valuable talent and skill and taking up his precious time.
As you can imagine, of the four Me’s, the Selfish Bastard Me is my least favorite. If you were to conduct a poll, you would find that he is everyone’s least favorite. Thankfully, he visits my bathroom mirror less and less with each passing year.
The selfish visitor has taken a back seat to the Loving Me, the Giving Me, the Christ-like Me. And I am so very thankful. Because Selfish Me has come less often, my life is better and so are the lives of those around me, especially my wife, my children, my neighbors, and my friends.
I am not alone in experiencing the complex split-nature of the personalities within. I’ve known too many people who have this same reality living out in their own lives from day to day. You know what I am talking about, don’t you? Some people are wonderful until they run into that financial rough patch, or make a quick stop at the bar, or receive a call from their mother, or work on their annual review. That wonderful person who drove to work becomes an easily agitated, self-centered, and hypercritical character who walks in the door at night. They believe the world is against them and they respond from anger and fear rather than love and grace. That Me loses control and everyone suffers.
I can only think of one man who had all his Me’s in order. It was Jesus who had it all figured out. And thankfully, he gave us a clue as to the source of his peace. Jesus instructed that there are two great commands: Love God and Love Others.
Over the years, I have discovered that My Men in the Mirror find solace by practiced these two simple, yet meaningful commands. The more active they are in loving God and Others, the less time they have to entertain the Selfish Me.
Before you leave the house today, before you step out of the bathroom, take another turn at the mirror. Whose eyes do you see? Which Me will see you out the door today?