This week, we play Sherlock, and stalk "the scoffer (to mock, deride, be disdainful...literally, one who makes a mouth at)." After, wading through many passages in Proverbs, allow me to share a tale of two young women.
During my years at Arizona Christian University, I met with many young gals as a mentor/counselor. As I studied this week, memories of these two gals rushed back: Student A and Student B (for humanity's sake, and so they don't seem like stiff letters, I'll name them Alea and Barbie, simply because those were the names that came to mind, and I never met with any girls by those names). Alea and Barbie were similar in many ways. They were both the same age when they came to ACU, though their stay was over different years. Both had been raised in very difficult family situations. Both girls struggled with trust issues, clinical depression, and social skills. They were clingy, needy, and messy as a result of their past. They both wrestled with using self-harm as a coping mechanism ; and, on top of that, had mild medical issues. Both girls sought the privacy of my office, seeking help, saying they wanted to see change from the inside out. Over the course of three plus years, I met with these gals.
Yet, the end of our season together, brought totally different results. Alea "did the work," while Barbie "made excuses." Alea humbly submitted herself to teaching and, when needed, reproof. She asked for corrective steps to take, and took them. This was not so with Barbie. Barbie didn't need teaching, or correction. She was "wise in her own eyes." Barbie even argued with clear Scriptures, questioned God's character, and walked away from anyone who reproved her, unable to see that sometimes reproof, when given in a gentle and truthful way, is the highest form of love. Alea began to build solid relationships, real Biblical friendships. She learned how to be encouraged in the Word of God, and how to find strength in Him on her own. She became less needy, less clingy, and more dependent on God's guidance and love. Barbie went through relationships, as fast as a puddle of water disappears on a sidewalk in 110-degree-Phoenix-heat. Today, Alea is a successful teacher. She's married with a rambunctious toddler. She serves Jesus passionately in her church and often travels on short term missions trips. She's a different woman. This is not true of Barbie. She has trouble holding down a job, still wrestles with depression, hanging on to friends, and cycles through the same pattern of lifestyle behavior. The issues in her life back then are her issues today.
What was the difference? One was teachable, and invested in change. The other was what the Bible calls a "scoffer": arrogant, always right, unteachable, angry, and foolish. I was privileged to see transformation in Alea, and journeyed life with her from mentor to friend, even past graduation. However, months before Barbie graduated, the Lord made it clear that spending more time with her was of no value. I terminated our weekly meetings, hoping that someone else might get through to her where I failed. To date, things are the same...nothing has changed.
When we continue to sit with friends who are scoffers, we quickly find how easy it is to get caught in their tornado of issues.
Being with a scoffer is like being on a merry-go-round that is spinning out of control with no place to get off.
These friends need to talk about their "stuff," but they come up with every excuse in the book as to why they can't change. Their favorite lines are "Yes, but..." and "I can't..." So, nothing ever changes, and the friend who tries to ride the merry-go-round with them, gets sucked into a vortex of foolishness (some call that insanity: doing the same thing over and over, yet hoping for different results).
If you find yourself in a toxic relationship, where arrogance, and an unwillingness to be taught, or to take steps to change are common, re-evaluate the friendship. Otherwise, it changes you...and not in a good way!
...a scoffer will not listen to reproof (Proverbs 13:1)
...a fool does not delight in understanding; only in revealing what is in his own mind (Proverbs 18:2)
...leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge (Proverbs 14:7)
...don’t make friends with an angry person...lest you entangle yourself in a snare (Proverbs 22:24-25)
No need to stay on that horse; jump off the merry-go-round! The landing may be a little rough, but you'll bounce back. Promise!
Again, before leaving, I must ask myself some tough questions and give honest answers. Do I have to be right? Do I argue my point just for the sake of winning? Do I listen to rebuke and am I teachable? Do I always have to have the last say...and make corrections? Are my life-issues more important than other people's problems? Do I make excuses for my problems, or do I allow others to speak into my life? Am I a good listener, or do I just want to reveal what is in my own mind? Am I easy to anger? If I lose relationships easily, is there a common denominator for which I need to look internally? Do I "make a mouth" when I think someone else is wrong, and deride their thinking, even to the point of coming back at them with this: "I was just joking?"
Sweet Savior...sometimes I just need to be rescued from myself...my own pride and arrogance. My own stubborn ways. My need to put myself at the center of everyone else's universe. Be my redemption, yet again!