My apologies to the genuine witches out there. I know you’ve had a rough time recently, what with all of the Christine O’Donnell nonsense. I’m not talking about you. I mean “witchy”, as in an unpleasant woman, as in…well, I’m trying to keep the language clean on my blog, but I’m sure you get the point. I’ve been muddling along in some relationships lately and I’m trying to figure out why things are so difficult. I’m a little fixated right now on the word “insight”. This is a word I’ve heard counselors bat around a lot: “So-and-so lacks insight,” meaning that the individual under discussion doesn’t have a clear view of her own motives and behaviors, doesn’t understand the source of her difficulties. She is not self-aware.
We all know people like this, don’t we? Think about the person who perceives of himself as the life of every party, while those around him wish he would pipe down and quit showing off. Or consider the poor soul who feels she is providing valued critical analysis in the work place, while everyone around her – including her boss – sees her as an annoying nitpicker. C.S. Lewis delivered a classic line on a particular kind of person who lacks insight: “She was the sort of person who lived for others. You could tell the others by their hunted expressions.” That joke is an old favorite of mine, and yet I can’t read it without feeling sorry for the woman Lewis described. To see yourself in such noble terms and to be so very wrong – well, it’s a painful and humiliating thing to contemplate.
But I am contemplating it. What if I lack insight? Perhaps I’m not as honest as I suppose. Perhaps I’m more passive-aggressive than I will acknowledge, even to myself. Maybe there is more manipulation in my dealings with others than I can really grasp. Maybe I have strategies for getting my own way. Maybe I’m self-aggrandizing. Maybe I make others feel small.
Maybe I’m a witch.
So I’m thinking, thinking, thinking, but I’m also praying. There is a prayer in Psalm 139 that seems fitting:
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.
It may be that the Psalmist was trying to argue his case with God – “Look, I have nothing to hide! You can examine me and you won’t find anything offensive.” But for me, the prayer works as a plea for insight. “God, I know that you know me better than I know myself. Look hard at my character, show me where I’m screwing up and damaging my relationships, and lead me on the path to reconciliation.”
I may not know the whole truth about myself, but I know this: I don’t want to be a witch.