Monday, July 13, 2015

The Dangers of Spiritual Self-Diagnosis


Recently, my dentist asked me to explain my tooth-brushing technique. 

He might as well have asked me to explain quantum physics. 

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't brush my teeth--I do!--it's just that I attack this task as I do all other mindless, daily chores: with my brain completely divorced from the process. 

To give him some perspective, I could have said, "You're looking at someone who had to develop an actual soap-moving process in order to get a handle on showering." Then I would have had to explain that I developed the habit of moving my line of toiletries from the left to the right side of the shower as I use them so that when I come out of a mental fog partway through the process, I know roughly what's going on and don't wind up shampooing my hair multiple times.

It's not that I despise mindless, repetitive tasks. Quite the opposite! I get some of my best thinking done during those times. It's just that I prefer easy-to-monitor ones, like washing the dishes and folding laundry. They have a clear beginning and end, giving my brain a chance to take a field trip. When the laundry basket's empty or the drying rack is full, I know I'm done. 

No so with tasks like tooth-brushing, during which a bit of concentration is required to know where I am in the process. For all I know, I could be brushing the right outside edge for five minutes and the rest of my teeth for five seconds. 

But that's seemed like a lot to explain just to help my dentist understand my problems with paying attention to the minutiae of life. In the end, I said something really intelligent, like, "I don't know. I guess I just brush them," and he proceeded to tell me that based on the evidence, he knew exactly what went down, and that there are some specific steps that I can take to improve the effectiveness of my brushing. 

I just have to be willing to pay attention to what I'm doing and to acknowledge the fact that just because my teeth feel clean at the end of the brushing process doesn't mean that they actually are clean. Or, at least, not as clean as they could be. 

We all have blind spots in life, areas in which we're incapable of self-diagnosis. Whether because we're intentionally blind or simply mentally absorbed in other things, we're in need of outside help even to recognize that there's a problem.

Fortunately, when it comes to spiritual diagnoses, we have the the ultimate outside help. One of the Holy Spirit's ministries is to convict us of sin, righteousness, and judgment; to help us see ourselves as we really are; to strip away the caveats and excuses, laying our souls bare to Truth. To give us the power to change. 

Without outside help, we may be convinced that we're fine--but we'd only be deceiving ourselves

Rather than avoiding opportunities for spiritual conviction, we must make a consistent effort to include them in our lives. Regular, direct applications of the Word to our souls will allow the Spirit to put his finger on each problem. It's important that we open ourselves to this process. 

Allow the Spirit of God to use the Word of God to convict, cleanse, and nourish your soul. 

Don't depend on self-diagnosis.

That would be just as foolish as me trying to be my own dentist. 



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