Pre-op prep

Step 6. Are ready to have God remove all these defects of attitude and character.
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If this doesn’t hurt, it’s probably not happening.

What does it take for God to remove these defects in attitude or character? It takes a lot, because we have undoubtedly gotten very comfortable with them. We’ve been self-medicating for years. These are the judgments, rationalizations, accusations, manipulations and put-downs we have relied on most of our lives. They are the equalizers by which we try to make up for our own deficiencies in character by putting others down. We are constantly evening the moral score with other people. As long as God grades on the curve we’ll probably be okay, because everyone else is so messed up (and aren’t we glad when we find that out!).

Something this well-entrenched doesn’t go away easily. That’s why God has to remove these things. We can’t do it ourselves. Marti made me cancel a video I had ready to send out today where I tried to illustrate this in a humorous way by handing over to God various attitudes that were damaging to myself and others. We decided against it because it gave the wrong impression. It presented this as something relatively easy to do. Just hand these things over to God; that’s all you need to do. Not. A child handing over his security blanket would have been closer to it. As soon as you let it out of your sight, you want it back.

In the chronicles of Narnia, greed, selfishness and pride turned Eustace into a dragon, and to get back to himself meant a painful process of God tearing away his dragon skin. Nothing is easy to lose when it’s become a part of you. That’s why you can’t just hand it over. God has to do the work and it is more like major surgery. That’s why if it didn’t hurt, it probably didn’t happen.

Lately I’ve been discovering how I have a passive-aggressive personality and what kind of damage I have done as a result. This is like dragon skin; it doesn’t come off without great pain and I don’t think God has made an anesthetic for this.

Passive-aggressive people have anger and resentment toward those who we think have put us in the spot we are in. It’s how we equalize our lack of personal responsibility: blame others for our predicament, and then secretly harbor hostility towards them in our hearts. Sooner or later that hostility surfaces in harmful and hurtful ways. Over time, we become very good at this to where we don’t even know we’re doing it. How do you get rid of this? Do you just hand it over? Chances are, we can’t even find it. We have to have God rip it from us and it’s not going to feel very good.

This step says we are ready to have this done. It’s a pre-op step. We’re telling God, “Go ahead, Lord. Get to work on me. I’m ready to be done with this. Whatever it takes, I want to be rid of it.”

Better put your name in. There may be a waiting list for surgery, but you and the people around you don’t have time to wait.

Here are some study questions for today. Use these for your own reflection or leave a comment below to join in the discussion.

Step Six: Are ready to have God remove all these defects of attitude and character.
1. How do you equalize your deficiencies in unhealthy ways? How does it hurt you and others around you?
2. What defect in attitude and character in you would hurt big time if God were to remove it from you right now?
3. What would it be like without that “equalizer” in your life?
4. Once we have an awareness of sin, what are our options? Why is “middle ground” impossible once we realize what we really are apart from the sacrifice of Jesus?
5. How will we know the operation to remove these defects has been successful?

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8 Responses to Pre-op prep

  1. I know I am in the pre-op waiting, I have fear and pain and doubt that I will make it through. My equalizer is worry and anxiety/or confusion, which no one wants to be around that! My pride at thinking I understand so much is being ripped away. I am running fast to try and maintain relationships! The questions are tough and my need for A+ effort is a sham, I am done! Wheel me in to surgery LORD Jesus!

  2. I have a passive-aggressive personality also. I didn’t realize it until a friend was describing her mother, who in the throes of dementia had REALLY shown her passive-aggressive nature. I realized some of what she was describing was also me! Ugh. It’s like a little monster inside, you can feel them preparing to come out, you try to stop it, and then it launches. I’m ready also!

  3. Bill in KCK says:

    Just wanted to point out a little type in study question #4. Im pretty sure that it should read “…really are a part of the sacrifice…” since apart sounds like we are not a part of Christs sacrifice. I apologize in advance if I am in error.

    • jwfisch says:

      “Once we have an awareness of sin, what are our options? Why is “middle ground” impossible once we realize what we really are apart from the sacrifice of Jesus?” It is actually correct but it is worded in a difficult way. It’s saying that “middle ground” (being ambivalent toward our sin) sets us apart from the work of Christ on the cross — not where we want to be. Does that help?

  4. Peter Leenheer says:

    My Christian upbringing was religious. In my twenties, I remember struggling with being a 100 % right. This I knew wasn’t possible yet I was sure I couldn’t be wrong. Today the passive aggressiveness you describe has me also filled with anger and resentment. This is a huge struggle. Prayer for forgiveness for every time I give into that temptation have helped. Something however was still missing. I need to forgive others and I need to forgive myself. That God is working on right now. At the same time I am taking hold of my responsibilities and being proactive. God has rewarded me with progress. The pain of losing this stronghold is wonderfully over whelmed by the utter relief of holiness. I know what it is like to face these demons. God put me in the hospital with back surgery and at one point I nearly lost my house, my wife and my job before a change was made to name only a small part of the process. God wants my whole heart not just a little piece of it. He can have it all.

    There are a lot of Pharisees out there, I am a recovering one. Have had to reconnect to my children as well as my wife. Things are improving nicely. It is also amazing what God finds in my heart that requires surgery. He keeps on finding sin to purge, especially when I think I am done with it. It makes me glad to know how much He cares to have me clean.

    • jwfisch says:

      Peter,

      Thanks for this. But I resent you for setting the bar for me! You see, I have a tendency to go, “Yep, there it is. That’s it,” when I figure out what I’m doing wrong, and then just let my diagnosis sit there without doing anything. As if finding out what was wrong was all I needed to do; it’s just supposed to fix itself after that. You’re actually doing something about it. You’re not supposed to do that! You’re blowing my cover. Keep telling the truth, Peter. This is good. We all need it. I need it!

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