They watched Jesus … so that they might find fault with him. – Luke 6:7 (adapted)
It’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it. Somebody has to be vigilant, fret about slippage, catch every error in this annoying universe of imperfect people. And thank God you do it well, correcting pronunciation and grammar, criticizing dress, tone of voice, manners, food choices, and liturgical practices. Your focus is exemplary, you don’t miss a thing.
And if you’re always scowling, if you’re always on the verge of apoplexy, if your heart is a little jaundiced, your language a bit blue, and people cringe when you pronounce your views—so be it. It’s the cross you have to bear, the price you have to pay for having such impeccable taste, such high standards, such unerring judgments, such a fine mind, such a finely calibrated crap-o-meter. Bear up. You’re the last best hope in a sea of mediocrity. You can’t fall down on the job.
Some people will say you’re being ridiculous, sweating the small stuff, that you’re condescending, snippy, nit-picky, demanding, hyper-critical, at worst cruel, at best unkind. They’ll say you should get a life, or at least a hobby. They’ll hope you just shut up. But you’re all that’s standing between civilization and decline. So ignore them. If someone does something good, don’t let it go unpunished. If someone walks on water, take him to task for not learning to swim.
Patient and indulgent God, change my heart when it looks for faults and finds them everywhere except in me. Spare me the soul-shrinking burden of being the judge of the world and every person and error in it.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.