Making Myself Unhappy

(3-minute read)

Most of my unhappiness in life has not been caused by someone else. I did it all by myself.

My first job after I got out of the Navy was repairing computers and data processing equipment as what’s now called a field engineer. This was before the age of personal computers, and they were all huge systems that had to be repaired on the customer site.

Several of the engineers would, on occasion, meet for lunch. It was all jokes and laughter until one of the men would complain about something his wife did. As other men began to chime in with their own versions of complaints about their wives, the mood continued down until most of the men looked very unhappy. I was single at the time and sat quietly. The same progression happened every time at one of these luncheons when one of the men started complaining about his wife. It was several years later before I got married. When Jo and I got married, she was perfect. As time progressed, since she couldn’t become more perfect, I guess I realized that she was better than expected. I should mention this blog post has been wife approved before publication.

One day I was unhappy about something Jo had done. I was at a luncheon with several engineers, and one of them complained about something similar to what my wife did. I was about to open my mouth to tell about Jo when it suddenly hit me that I didn’t want to be unhappy. After years of watching these men damage their happiness, I told them something I really liked about my wife instead of complaining.

Jo and I have been married for over 55 years. I had to go a long way back to find an example of my doing the right thing from the beginning. There have been no examples of that since. On the other side of that coin, I have noticed someone doing something wrong and said something about it on many occasions. My judgment of them seemed correct, but it came with too high a price.

I thought that the scripture about judge not lest you be judged meant I should not judge others or God would judge me. But as it turns out, as soon as I judge someone for something, my brain looks back into my history to find out if I’ve ever done anything similar. If it finds anything, it yells at me, “You hypocrite. You are worse than he is.”

I’m not the same person I used to be. I’m not the same person I was three months ago. Hopefully, I’m not even the same person I was yesterday. When judgment comes from my lips, that voice in my brain tries to drag me back to the worst places in my life. It tries to make me small in my own eyes. It tries to tell me, “No one could love a person like you, and you shouldn’t love yourself either.” How do I love my neighbor when I can’t even love myself?

For most of my life, I never realized that if I judged others, I immediately judged myself whether I wanted to or not. That judgment caused me to think less of myself. The less I thought of myself, the less I was capable of loving others.

Okay, all you thieves, murderers, sexual perverts, politicians, people who drive on Hwy 301, and the rest of you, I’ll help you if I can, but you’ll have to go elsewhere for your judgment. I’m hanging up the knowledge of good and evil and am looking for life. I have some neighbors to love.

Photo by Tim Mossholder

12 responses to “Making Myself Unhappy”

  1. As your wife, Don, I really appreciate you protecting me in your conversations. I learned early on, as well, it was damaging to our marriage to belittle you in my conversations with other women. It also was damaging how others looked at you. I’m happy to learn in your blog about the judgement we bring on ourselves. This thought never occurred to me. I have a lot of rethinking to do. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don, not only do I also have a lot of rethinking I need to do, I really needed this story right now so much. I don’t always read your stories right away when I see them posted because I need to just stop and be quiet, be present so I get the inspiration and understanding and guidance your stories give me. Thank you for this story it meant so much to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You two obviously benefit from your Godly attitudes toward one another. Great of you (both) to share.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good thoughts, Don. When my wife does or says something that is not optimal, I can either help her/encourage her/set a better example for her/pray for her (and pray for myself to be a better husband) OR vent my frustration to whoever will listen and poison the wellwaters of our marriage.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So very true Don. Thankfully I have kept my mouth closed most of the time. Add hwy#2 to that list

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Gary. Sounds like you are a bit faster learning than I was.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not so sure Don. I made a lot of choices for the good while working the trucking docks to pay for college. There was no middle ground in that crowd. Very few could withstand the pressure to act and be a rough tough guy. I chose to follow Jesus closely which spilled over into having a good and respectful relationship with my wife all these years. My boss called me a “priest” which made the guys laugh…nervously.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a good reminder, Don. I’ve noticed that when I have been critical of people, it has rebounded on myself and made me feel bad.
    I’m so glad your post was ‘wife approved’ before publication. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is an interesting insight. I think it is hard not to judge when there is pain or hurt involved but it does eventually reflect back on oneself in some way, even if they were the one who was hurt.

    Liked by 1 person

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