The Enemy Within

Spring is here!

With the glory of spring comes the territorial posturing of birds as romance unfolds and ambitious nesting plans follow.

Recently as I went to my vehicle, dirt, grime, and bird droppings greeted me–covering the mirror and expanding across the entire window–and dutifully dripping down the entire door panel.

Muddied wing marks were plastered over these areas as this bird forthrightly engaged this intruder and vehemently confronted the threat.

Obviously a lot of energy, anxiety and passion was exerted by this bird against the belligerent foe it faced in the mirror.

The next day, I parked in the same area.

As I returned to my vehicle several hours later, muddied smatterings appeared across my mirror, window, and door, evidencing that another hard-fought battle had ensued.

As I parked in the same vicinity the next day, one might conclude I suffer with short-term memory, or question my naivety that surely this same battle would not yet be fought yet a third time.

I was proved wrong.

Stupid bird.

It makes me wonder if this bird thought the enemy facing him was handsome or ugly.

As I cleaned up its mess…for the third time…I was struck by how foolish and futile the efforts of this bird were–consumed by an enemy that did not exist.

Or did it?

Perhaps the enemy was within. Imagining and concluding a reality that did not exist. The worry, anxiety, and energy exerted was against itself!

How easy it is to do the same. To misread or misunderstand another. To project a wrong conclusion on another and, in the end, created an enemy that does not even exist!

I find this to be all too true in my own life. Some time ago, a series of events unfolded in which I was convincingly justified in my anger and rightfully offended by the offender. As I allowed my conclusions to simmer and stew, I was convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that I was right. In my mind, as suspicion and cynicism were smugly fostered, the offender quickly took on the appearance like that of an enemy.

Imagine my humble awakening when I discovered that not only had I misinterpreted the comments, but I totally missed a critical piece in the events which led me to very unfair assumptions and projections.

Just like the stupid bird, the enemy was within me. I discovered the only enemy in this story was the one facing me in the mirror.

The enemy was me!

In humbly owning my part, the story came to a quick and healthy conclusion.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus paints this powerful metaphor which is all too painfully true in our human experience. Painful as it may be, we are wise to take it to heart, lest we exhibit similar behavior as did this foolish bird.

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.  “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?  How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.             Matthew 7:1-5