by Laurie Gudim
When I was in graduate school studying clinical psychology I practiced the skills I was learning in several internships in which my work was closely observed. Many people – professors, supervisors, and fellow students – had the duty of critiquing it. Some of the evaluations left me feeling like I was totally inadequate, not only unable to help anyone in need, but myself a blight on the very face of the planet. Others could be just as incisive and critical, but I would leave knowing where my strengths lay and where I needed to focus my next step of professional development.
I discovered that the people who offered the most useful feedback were the ones who were well aware of their own weaknesses. They were continually working on themselves – and willing as well to admit that they were often stumped by their clients.
When I shared this insight with one of my favorite professors he said, “I hope you’ll become like the ones who are serving you best. You have to be willing to really admit to your failings If we can’t acknowledge how tangled up and confused we often are, how can we help anybody else? People don’t need tin gods to tell them what to do; they need someone to help them to reach into their own resources and experiences for their answers. We can serve them only insofar as we know just how mucky, stinky and dark our own psyches are. We always have to face into the darkness – genuflect to our demons.”
True humility is just that – genuflecting to the demons. As Jesus so humorously puts it in today’s Gospel reading, it’s knowing there is a huge log in our eye that pretty much blinds us. We all have addictions, wounds and failures that cause us shame and get in the way of our relationships with one another and with God. To get past them we have to embrace them, acknowledge and work with them. It’s an ongoing process. But only in engaging in this work can we truly be of aid to the other person, the one with the tiny little shred of a tree in their eye.
Laurie Gudim works is a religious iconographer and writer in Fort Collins, Colorado. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.She has recently published her novel, Loving the Six-Toed Jesus, available from Amazon.
Image: Public Domain from Pixabay