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When you have to face the plank in your own eye

In the Hummel House, we’ve been in a full-blown renovation. When I say full-blown, I mean every darn inch of this house is being transformed. One of our most recent projects was to sand down decorative wooden beams in the family room so we could make them the color we were wanting. The other day I was sanding, (which is a royal mess) and I got sawdust in my eye. It hurt! I don’t mean just one piece, it felt like the whole beam was in my eye at once. I tried my best to flush it out, but it took awhile for me to blink away all the dust that made it’s way into my eye.

As I got back to work, I laughed. An old Bible verse came to mind. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matt 7:3) The moment the spirit delivered that kind of message to me, I knew it was almost laughable with how appropriate it is. You see, I’ve had a tendency to grow self-righteous. Not with my clients. No, somehow that’s removed from my work-life. But my self-righteousness grows from trying to be perfect, be the hardest worker, accomplish everything at record speed…and it rubs off on those closest to me. Lack of compassion for self can lead to lack of compassion for others. When we are hard on ourselves, it's very likely we can be hard on spouses, children, or close others.

So what are we to do when we are faced with the rubbing pain of an entire plank in our eyes? I call the plank "self-righteousness," but it could also be a lack of grace for self and others. It might mean continuing to push through, work harder, and expect that from others when all the team might need is a water break. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1) Notice the plank for what it is: name it. Call yourself out. I’ve had to develop the self-awareness (and work on it constantly) to be sure that the critical eye I use towards myself doesn’t bleed over onto others. Unfortunately, it bleeds over more than I’d like and I have to own that.

2) Live out the pain of the plank in your eye: see what it creates in your life. When we call out others (out loud or internally) others for their dust when ignoring our plank, what happens? See what the pain of living with a plank creates in your life. For me, it typically creates a hard heart and causes more distance in my close relationships.

3) Flush it out: Goodness, this is the relieving part, but it still takes work. Flushing it out might look different for each person. Here are some ideas:

a. (Heartmath)- Allow your heart to be transformed

b. (Centering prayer)- abide in God. Allow God to shift you internally.

c. Journal- write out what’s happened and what needs to change. Writing can allow you to release what

you need to release.

d. (Prayer)- see this one or this one

4) Notice your new vision: What happens after you clean sawdust out of your eye? They are red. The redness is a reminder of what’s happened and they will continue to be gingerly sore for a period of time. That’s a gift. It helps us stay on our toes to be diligent to use more eye protection moving forward. What I think needs more protection than our eyes, is our hearts. We need to continually sit in meditation, prayer, or spend moments of journaling to allow our hearts to be aware of our tendency to jump to a critical stance with ourselves or others and let that melt away. It takes constant upkeep. We are cups to be molded and refined.

I wonder if you never knew this about me, that I struggle with this? Maybe you didn’t, because it’s not something I am proud of. It’s been something I’ve been trying to “grow out of” for quite some time, but I fully realize I am a work in progress. When we allow grace to transform us we can offer that grace to others. May we be open to God’s work in our lives and hand over our planks. It can be painful at times, but what better gift than to have a God that doesn’t allow us to continue living with planks in our eyes. Happy rooting, everyone!

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