The other day I realized that I had booked a return flight for the wrong date. Thankfully I realized it the day before I was scheduled to return. The mistake cost several hundred dollars to fix. I was bugged, to say the least, that I had made that mistake and immediately wondered why. Have you had moments like this? Your life is humming along, and everything seems to fit only to realize that it doesn’t. You forget something, you lose something, you say something, you miss something, you do something, and each one of those somethings is important. You feel foolish because it cost you another something.
Guilty I am
I have been trying to be more intentional about being self-aware. I recently heard a friend of mine lecture to a small audience, and he made the point that a sign of maturity and growth was moving from being self-deceived to being self-aware. I know the principle, but I liked how he presented it. It resonated with me. A self-deceived person is someone who sees things from a perspective that has the potential of letting them think one thing when in reality it’s another. Yoda would say, “Guilty I am.” I have found myself utterly convinced that my vision, my idea and my opinion is right. I sometimes think I’m better at something than I really am. I can get smug in thinking, “I got this.”
The self-aware person is more understanding of their situation, listens better, sees what others don’t see, tends to be more empathetic, patient and at peace. The self-aware person is more present. They notice the flowers, the leaves, the laughter of a child, the slight twitch of pain and the change in the inflection of a voice. I’m trying to become more self-aware in order to fully realize what God is trying to say and do.
Self-deceived or self aware
I reflected on my recent situation where I had to make a sudden adjustment to my ticket, and I thought about it from the perspective of a self-deceived person and that of a self-aware one. The self-deceived person immediately denies the reality of the mistake, which quickly can morph into blame: “I certainly didn’t do this; it was someone’s fault.” Once I moved from denial to blame, I was forced to move to acceptance. I became embarrassed and moody. Momentarily my day was affected by this. I had a hard time being engaged in those around me, at the task at hand, I was distracted. I am often surprised how easily I can become less than when the unexpected happens.
However, the self-aware person immediately recognizes the problem, asses the facts, confirms that a problem really exists, explores what potential solutions may exist that can then be applied to the unfortunate situation. For example, in my situation I had to confirm that the ticket had actually been booked on the wrong day (I am the one that booked it, no one to blame there). I then had to explore the options, stay over another day at what cost or rebook the ticket at what cost? Which option was the right one? So many factors to consider. The options became clearer and clearer, and I rebooked the ticket.
I experienced something I had not expected though. I suddenly realized that what I was experiencing at the moment wasn’t the shame of making the mistake but actually the joy of realizing I was in a place to fix a mistake because of some revelation. I was made aware of the mistake while I had options to find a solution. In other words, this was a reason to celebrate. Bravo buddy, you actually saved the day. The mistake had actually been made months earlier when I had booked the ticket. I was unaware of it. Today I had not made a mistake, I was actually fixing one. The solution was made possible because I had discovered the mistake in time. God protected me. Was it an inconvenience? Sure, all mistakes are. However, an undiscovered mistake to a self-deceived person can easily lead down some treacherous paths. However, the self-aware person is given the opportunity to see the mistake from God’s perspective, and that helps give the situation it’s appropriate weight and response.
Obviously, the example is trivial compared to the serious situations we all find ourselves in, often with some very weighty consequences. However, when I’m fully present and allow God to be my guide, showing me what He sees and giving me the resources to respond the way He responds then we experience a peace that comes from putting these situations into their appropriate place, even if that place is serious. What mistake do you still regret? What burden do you still carry? Are you reflecting on them as a self-deceived person or a self-aware person? I am working on celebrating moments when I get to see what God sees, even if it hurts, because He’s letting me into His world as He enters into mine.
Stephan N. Tchividjian is the president and founder of the National Christian Foundation South Florida. Visit southflorida.ncfgiving.com to learn more.
Read more articles by Stephan Tchividjian at goodnewsfl.org/author/