“Then he added, “But this is all worth nothing as long as I see Mordecai the Jew just sitting there at the palace gate.” Esther 5:13 NIV
If something rankles us, like the grit in an oyster, it may be a clue to something we need to look at more closely in our soul work, covering it in layers of prayer until it become a pearl of wisdom that we find we have taken on board. Something that irks is something that needs to be paid attention to. In Haman’s case, Mordecai felt like a fly in the ointment because he was a symbol of everything the wicked man wanted to get rid of, everything that stood in his way to becoming all powerful, a righteous, godly man who had earned respect and was intrinsically honourable. Mordecai was going about his life untroubled by sin or selfish schemes. Haman was working every sly and unholy plan he could think of.
What we hate is a big indicator of what we revile in ourselves. In this case, as in so many sadly throughout history, anti-Semitism is a blaming mechanism that says, these people are not special, because that would make me not-special. These people are not worthy of God’s love and attention, because I must surely be worthy of it. it is a back-to-front hatred of self, masquerading as nauseating pride.
Just as the narcissist is intent on making themselves the centre of the universe to cover up the pain of knowing deep down that they are not, so this Jew-hater wants to rid the world of God’s people in order to rid himself of God, who alone knows his wicked, hateful heart. When we believe we have acted in an unforgivable way, we sometimes seek the harm of the One who might forgive us, rather than the reconciliation that might be offered. This is the fruit of guilt and it soon escalates into greater and greater crimes against love.
But if we take the things that we are transferring onto others, if we offer the misplaced and difficult hurts, grievances, pains that seem to make no sense, the bruised ego especially, into prayer, and lay it honestly before God, things will change.
Yes, it is hard to look at oneself truly naked in the realm of heart and soul, but it can be done gradually and with some self-compassion. Once the road of shadow work is embarked upon, these irritations, whether they are seemingly small niggles or larger, more obvious rages, can teach us a great deal and be the catalysts to quite astonishing transformations. The more open we can be with our maker, the deeper he can pour in the balm of his grace. And if that sounds intimate, it is because prayer is just that. God can be closer to us than any lover, and he loves to help us and set us right, to have us turn our tear-stained faces back to him.
Photo from Pixabay