I always chuckle when I hear the phrase, “a self-made man.” Of course there is no such thing; but, if there were, what kind of man would that be? What kinds of things would you learn on your own? If the only things you knew were the things you experienced for yourself, your education would be lacking in many ways. On the other hand, you would probably be quite convinced of the things you thought you knew.
Let’s see—what kinds of things did we learn from ourselves? Well, most of us learned that acceptance comes from obedience and conformity. If we did what we were supposed to do, we would be loved. Good little boys and girls were rewarded. However, we also learned that “good” could be faked or even stolen. We stood by as others took credit for the things we did and we were supposed to be gracious and kind while they did it. We watched as others cheated the system to get what we wanted. Then we learned that straight hard work may not always be necessary. Sometimes what we wanted could come from whining or cheating or some other shortcut.
We learned to flinch when someone raised his arm. We learned to hide when trouble was coming. We learned to endure when others were mean. We learned to fight inside our hearts, rather than with our fists.
We learned that acceptance and love were fickle. We might do well and still not be rewarded. Someone else might do poorly and be honored. We learned not to trust the ones who told us we could trust them. We learned that the things we loved would be taken away. And we learned that we had little value to the world around us; that there was no friend, no sibling, no parent, whose love was truly unconditional and lasting.
Let’s face it: we learned some hard lessons. Those lessons colored our thinking and we became deceived. The world and the manipulators pushed us into giving them access to our hearts and they used us. And many of us learned that we existed for others to use.
But it was all a lie. The things we learned came from broken experiences in a broken world. There was something more, but we were deceived into believing less.
Then, when we finally found something more—One who truly loved us—the things we taught ourselves continued to promote the lie in our lives. But that story is for tomorrow…