Monday, May 23, 2011

The Complexity of People

If I have learned nothing else in the last several years, I have learned that people are complicated. It has become abundantly clear that we are all full of contradictions. We strive to live a certain way, but inevitably we fail.

Sometimes we own our failures and work to do better in the future. I know that sometimes I have to learn the same lesson over and over (and over and over) again. To give an easy example, my encounters with procrastination are many. I am perfectly aware that it is one of my challenges, but I often (not always) still fall into my procrastinating ways.

I was reading a student essay today that said that people who commit the same sin multiple times should go to Hell, because (he says) if they're truly sorry, they wouldn't be a repeat offender. Incidentally, the writer is a student who has made the same mistakes more than once. I wonder if he believes he is Hell-bound. If he does, I hope that at some point he learns to forgive himself and to ask others for forgiveness. I hope he recognizes his strengths in addition to his weaknesses.

Within the last 24 hours, I have been made publicly aware of both my strengths and my shortcomings. The two incidents reminded me of my own complexity. My reaction to recognition of my success was, "Do I deserve this? Yes, I do. I think I do, but do I really?" My reaction to recognition of my failure was, "Do I deserve this? Yes, I do. I think I do. Yes, I do."

It always seems to be easier to recognize the bad things about ourselves. Thank God other people see the good and point it out, because sometimes we (or at least I) get too caught up in the bad and lose sight of the good within. The challenge is seeing both good and bad and accepting both. The challenge is accepting the contradictions within all people, not just ourselves.

May we learn to embrace complexity.

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