You’d think by now I would stop asking, “Why?” “Why did they do that? What were they thinking?” After living this much life, you’d think I might stop being surprised.
As I sat in a large waiting room last week, my Judgment Meter was registering in the red zone. We were there for over an hour, and many people passed by me wearing the most gosh-awful clothes. I couldn’t believe they’d choose to go out in public like that. I wondered if they stood in front of the mirror that morning and said, “Yes, I look good in this!”
And there were opportunities for me to observe snippets of relationships, the cold effects of corporate policies, employee procedural snap decisions, confusion, and emotional reactions. I couldn’t believe how disorganized it seemed.
I regularly feel this way when I watch the nightly news.
Often, my impulse to judgment is because what I see in others is different from how I would choose and respond. To be perfectly honest, it’s my self-righteousness coming out. After all, I’m sure I know the way things ought to be. They are operating out of a different set of faulty values. But usually, it’s because of lessons I’ve learned the hard way. Many times what I see is genuinely unscriptural behavior.
I’ve worked in some pretty dysfunctional organizations through the years. I’ve spent a lot of time SMH. (That’s “shaking my head” in social media abbreviation.) When I would ask, “What were they thinking?” “Why do we have to do it that way?” My co-worker would always say, “Dottie, remember where you are.” The realization would dawn again, and I’d respond, “Oh yes, we’re in/at (insert name of town/organization.)” It helped to remember those stupid decisions were normal in that setting.
In a way, I’m making light of all this. That’s how I’ve sometimes dealt with frustrations that were beyond my control. But I know there are deadly reasons behind much of the brokenness and failings we see.
We live in a fallen world. Humanity will never get it right when left to our own inclinations. Sin is at the core. Spiritual forces of wickedness are at work to claim every inch of what would be goodness on this earth. It would be depressing if we didn’t know what the final outcome will be.
57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. -1 Corinthians 15: 57-58 (ESV)
I worked for a mental health center that was headed by a wise old psychiatrist. When we presented patient cases to discuss as a team in staff meetings, someone would invariably say something like, “I don’t understand why did they did that.” The good doctor would smile, shake his head, and say, “If you really understood, we’d have to worry about you too.”
Jeff Foxworthy used to tell this joke. “If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair. Because five minutes at the fair, you’ll be going, ‘you know, we’re alright. We are dang near royalty.‘”
I’m not sure that joke could hold up anymore, because, well… even the royal family has shown their problem areas lately.
In all of these instances of disorder and dysfunction, I am surprised but not surprised. I’m glad that I haven’t completely lost the ability to be flabbergasted. It shows that I haven’t resigned myself to thinking, “This is the way it is and always will be.” It means I know this is not the way things ought to be, and this brokenness won’t last forever. And that includes my own dysfunctions.
All images in this post are from Pixabay. The first is Yorsapat Sintoosing. The second is by Hans Braxmeier. The third by Elisa Riva.