Monday, August 31, 2009

Flattery: Red Flag?

Last Wednesday I forgot to bring my Magnificat to work with me, so I instead went to my backup daily prayer site, Universalis.

Morning prayer began with Psalm 35 (36 depending on your translation):

"O God, in your light we shall see true light.
Evil whispers to the sinner in the depths of his heart:
     the fear of God does not stand before his eyes.

Evil’s flattering light disguises his wickedness,
     so that he does not hate it."

Evil's flattering light disguises his wickedness.

As Christians, how often do we see ourselves against the backdrop of the world, thinking our souls are in far better shape than they really are?

*     *     *

Speaking of flattery...

Over the years, I've been acquainted with countless "friends" who use flattery as a means to gain something--a sense of belonging, career advancement, social acceptance, or a boost to the self-image (as compared with the world, of course). I still have a few of these kinds of people in my life, and boy do they lay it on thick. I feel sorry for them, because they truly don't understand giving of the self. Every favor has a condition. Every promise is forgotten. Every gift is nominal and often accompanied by saccharin. Their friendships don't last through the years, and wonder why they never seem to get anywhere in life.

Sign after sign is erected before them, and they deliberately shut their eyes, telling themselves that it's never them, never their inability to see themselves in the light of God. They prefer the flattering light of evil, because then they don't have to change.

Of course I would be guilty of lying if I said that I never did anything like this in my life. Sure, I've done things to ingratiate myself to others, especially when I looked at myself against that backdrop of the world, where nothing I do is nearly as bad as what others do.  I even have told my friends to not beat themselves up over things, because what they've done isn't nearly as bad as what others have done, and to not worry about it. 

The more I try to understand myself, though, and the true nature of sin as it works within me, I realize that this is a terrible attitude, and is just as bad as that overt flattery I described.  Lately I'm realizing that when my friends say to me, "compared to others...", I know they're trying to make me feel better, but it's not the response I need from them. Others aren't going to be judging me the day I die. God will, and He doesn't measure according to what others do. If I stop examining my conscience objectively against GOD's rule, I might easily turn into one of those poor souls blinded by evil's flattering light. 

What we all need during these times is not flattery, but prayer:

"Let us not be crushed under the heels of the proud,
     nor dispossessed by the hands of sinners.
The doers of evil have fallen where they stood,
     they are cast down and cannot rise. "


Anonymous said...

GINA, THANK YOU...You have no idea of the guilt and turmoil I have been feeling lately about two people who have been close friends for years, but, after all those years, I, and WHAT I BELIEVE, have drasticly changed from the way these two friends conduct their lives, and the "conversations" I "allow" myself to listen to from them NOW makes the NEW me feel very uncomfortable about listening in their "sinful" acts and words and deeds.......yes, the Janet of some twelve years ago used to also love to partake in conversation with friends using many vulgar words about many vulgar things....BUT NOW,"I ALLOW THEM" to continue or I spend MUCH time "caller i.d."ing them to avoid listening to they're acts that I no longer care to listen to, let alone participate in conversation about....WHAT A HIPPACRATE I am being, just to avoid losing friends...but by deceiving them, through avoiding my TRUE feelings to them about their deeds, I am not only denying myself the NEW love of self and GOD that I have come to LOVE, but I am acting as if my becoming a person who CARES about having GOOD CHARACTER and LOVE OF MY FAITH and CATHOLIC BELIEFS is something to apolajize about......OH PLEASE FORGIVE ME DEAR LORD FOR HIDING YOU AWAY during imperfect human thinking at awkward times with certain "old" friends....I have spoken to my priest about this VERY problem because my confusion of what to do or say to these two women when they start telling me stories I no longer care to hear about....My priest is correct, isn't he Gina??? He said that I DON'T have to participate, NOR EVEN explain why...He said that whenever they call, simply say I am NOT AVAILABLE to TALK...This is not a lie, he said, because, FOR THE TWO OF THEM, I AM NOT available to talk.....Why have I been so afraid to let go of "old, evil ways and friends, when in truth, if they TRULY WERE true friends, they would ALREADY know, AND CARE, how I feel and not even put me in the position of having such sinful conversations of their "activities".... Is this perhaps a test for me Gina? To let me FEEL INSIDE MY SOUL if it is more important for "others" to love me, or is it more important for "me" to LOVE GOD AND THE PERSON HE HAS SHOWN ME THAT I CAN BE, of GOOD character and REAL belief systems.......I THINK YOU have been with me long enough to know Gina, which IS the TRUE ANSWER FROM GOD, NOT the DISGUISE OF SATEN and SIN...... Now that your "talk of the day" has led me to KNOW what NEEDS to be done...NOW I could REALLY use lots of prayers to give me the COURAGE to speak "out loud" about my NEW< TRUE SELF to them. And to, for the first time in my entire life, FORM A BOUNDRY, about my TRUE SELF, without thr "fear" of losing friendships that were never two sided to begin with.....THANKS GINA, for some reason you struck a VERY LOUD cord with me today.....iI guess that is why GOD has led me to such wonderful friends like you guys, because TRUE friends WILL be a sounding board for you AND still remain.....I am terrafied of when I will next meet face to face with my two "friends", but, the happiness in MY soul is at stake here, NOT theirs, so OUR LORD will give me not only the words to say, but the "spine" to stand up for what I have come to KNOW I BELIEVE IN, AND always, Janet

Gina said...

Janet, I don't believe Father Tom would steer you wrong. He gives very good advice.

Seriously, don't let these "friends" steal your joy.

Don't be afraid to lose them, because you have US.

Anonymous said...

and it is KNOWING the REAL LOVE of ALL of YOU that keep me steering in the RIGHT and JUST DIRECTIONS.... I love all of the HONEST, NON-SELF SERVING LOVE and DIALOGUE WITH ALL OF MY SISTERS.......I DO pray I can, one day, VERY, VERY SOON count on the strength the LORD has shown me to be able to STAND UP for what "I" BELIEVE in MY OWN SOUL...without the fear of the loss of false and destructive love from UNSAFE people....ESPECIALLY now that I have found so MANY people, through you girls and cursillo, and through the people I meet in my diocese classes, and through my lay-ministries joy at St. Jude, that EXUDE THE TRUE FEELING OF LOVE......I MUST remain confident of my FAITH IN THE LORD to KNOW that "dead limbs" need to be pruned away for me to be my true, whole, contented self that I LOVE BEING.....pray for me sister...all my love always, Janet

Gina said...

Janet, you are always in my prayers, as I know that I am in yours.

Love you, sister!

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