I know that being human is very very easy, and being Christlike is very hard.
A couple weeks ago I listened to a great sermon about forgiveness. The overall message was that Christ tells us to forgive seven times seven, or essentially endlessly. I found myself thinking, "But what about...." and "Yeah, but...." or "What about forgetting? Do I need to forget too?"
That is the thing about Jesus. He was a pretty cool dude. I mean, he loved and loved, forgave and forgave some more. He did everything that is completely counter to our natural human behavior. We, as humans, can be so primal. We get mad, we react. We are wronged, we want revenge. We are hurt, we blanket ourselves in that hurt, keeping it wrapped around us like a Snuggy for all to see. Imagine if we strive to be more Christ-like, or less goat-like...
Yes, I said goat-like. Stick with me. I know not everyone is Christian, or even a believer in any higher power, but everyone believes in goats. They are real, you can touch them, you can hear and even smell them. I've learned a lot by watching Bill, my goat. If he is mad, he bellers and hollers, and will even honk at me. If he is jealous he will butt the dog. If he is lonely, he will prevent me from leaving by cutting off my walking path. If he does not want to walk, he will.not.walk. Bill and I share similar emotions, but I do not have to share his behaviors. Thankfully I have a brain that is bigger than a walnut, and I can choose my behaviors. But, that is the tricky thing about being human. We really have to WANT to act higher, better, more Christ-like (or less goat-like.) The desire has to be strong enough to override the natural tendency to act impulsively like Bill.
Learning to respond to life, like Jesus (not like Bill) can sometimes be very difficult. It may require retraining yourself from very old behaviors that you have had since you were a child. It may be painful as you process some events that formed your behaviors. It may depend upon you evaluation of things you have always known as "truth" because that is what you were told. It may require establishing healthy boundaries and a large amount of self-awareness, but it can be done. If my walnut-brained goat can be taught to answer me when I call his name, we as humans can learn different behavioral responses.
And why does it matter? I mean in the end, we will always be sinful humans and Bill will always be a goat, right? Because of the pain, that is why. Bill, in his impulsiveness, doesn't intend pain, but a goat hoof to a foot hurts. Because him refusing to move, because he does.not.want.to.move, is exhausting. When we react primitively to hurt, jealousy, or being wronged, it creates more pain. Pain to us and pain to the wrong doer. It perpetuates and grows and is exhausting. And it matters because we are flawed, we are human, and we mess up. But by striving to be more like Jesus (less like Bill) maybe the book of what is acceptable behavior can slowly be rewritten. Because the journey that comes with attempting to be a better human being is worth it, to yourself and to others.
We are better than goats. We are. We may not all be as amusing as them, but we are better. If you can not ask yourself "What would Jesus do?" then ask yourself "What would Bill not do."