Do you remember when you first learned you were a jerk?
Just me? Okay then.
It was during lunch my sophomore year of high school. I don’t remember what I said, but I remember it was to two guys – Mike and Steve. Whatever I said made Steve really mad, and he was stalking away. Mike went after him, and, as they were walking out of range of my hearing, I heard Mike say, “He didn’t mean it. He’s a smart guy, but he doesn’t always realize what he’s saying.”
Now, a little context: I was not cool in high school by even the most generous application of that word. I was a nerd and this was way before nerds were cool. Mike and Steve were both jocks, definitely part of the cool kids club. Mike and I had a couple of classes together, and we had done a couple of group projects.
Being a nerd, I knew what made me valuable to the cool kids: I was a source of good grades.
Whether they were copying my homework or I got to do projects with them, the closest thing to friendship was what I traded for brains.
I didn’t believe I was essentially likeable, that anyone would want to be my friend just because I was me. I had to give them something – brains.
What I couldn’t see until I somehow inadvertently offended Steve was that I was using my nerd powers to hurt people. I was shocked Steve was hurt by something I said. I didn’t think I mattered enough to kids like Steve to hurt them even on purpose.
That moment was a big revelation to me: the very thing I thought made me likeable to my classmates was also hurting them. I had become the worst kind of nerd.
My insecurity had turned me into a jerk.
In high school, I barely had the emotional intelligence to have that self-realization. Much less did I have the insight to realize that everyone else had the same struggle as me. Everyone was insecure (that was true in high school and it’s still true today).
Our insecurity makes us jerks.
Let’s talk about insecurity – our inability to receive love, to believe we’re worthy of love. Because this is the root of our toxic relationship habits (whatever they might be).
How do we learn to receive God’s love? What happens when we we do? When we learn to be loved, we are transformed into a people who offers the world around us an infinite source of love.