My mom and sister think that I'm a jerk (their favorite phrase is "butt-head" but I was afraid of offending people). And they probably deserve to think so. They probably see it more than anyone. (You people who work for me---yeah--you need to be quiet or else I'm going to put you on paddy wagon duty!) But yeah, my mom and sister probably see it more than anyone. Even more than my wife. After all--if Abby ain't happy, ain't nobody going to be happy. The cool thing about Christianity is that it really is the ultimate self-help program. We are all trying to better ourselves in order that we may become more holy and pleasing to God. So, while the title of the blog is "How to Not be a Jerk" it could easily apply to whatever fault you have.
1. Acknowledge that you are a jerk. Probably the best time/place for this is at night before you go to bed when you do an "examination of conscience." This is where you look back on your day and think about what you have done and what you have failed to do. Did you act like a jerk. Did you treat others like a jerk. Did you gossip or belittle people? Did you fail to take care of people?? Did you leave people in your wake thinking, "what a jerk!"
2. Reconcile with God. Whenever you are a jerk to people you aren't just being a jerk to them but you are being a jerk to God by sinning. Get your jerk rear-end to confession and be reconciled with God. Not only will you be in a state of grace but you will receive graces that will help you to not be a jerk.
3. Reconcile with others. If you go to confession and reconcile with God for being a jerk but you don't reconcile with those you were a jerk to then you are . . . well . . . a jerk. The cross is both vertical and perpendicular. We cannot only work towards spiritual perfection vertically and try to be pleasing to God because we will fail. We also have to work towards spiritual perfection horizontally and love others. We must take care of others. We must ask those who we have wronged for forgiveness. The prodigal son said, "I have sinned against you and against God." Go to those you have wronged--whether it be a daughter, a son, a sibling, a spouse or a parent. Tell them you have been a jerk and ask for their forgiveness. It's not good enough to tell someone else that you are a jerk. Tell it to the person you were a jerk to. It will help them heal
4. Work on not being a jerk. Throughout your day, be conscience of your actions. Put that filter on your mouth and don't say everything that pops into your head. Try to see the other person's viewpoint before dismissing them. There is a saying, "it's better to keep you mouth shut and seem like a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." That can be changed to "it's better to keep your mouth shut and to look like a jerk than to open it and remove all doubt." Be aware or people's feelings.
5. Start all over again. Damm it, you screwed up. You told your subordinate, "If you were any smarter I'd teach you to fetch." Or you told your friend, "Hey, the 80's called--they want their wardrobe back." Maybe you said to your co-worker, "I'm trying to imagine you with a personality." Maybe you tell the skinny lady walking down the street, "Yellow makes you look like a #2 pencil. " Yep . . . you are doing it again. You are being a jerk. Go back to the beginning. No one ever said it would be easy! All we can do is try and try again. Eventually, we will get it. We may not notice it but people will see a change in you and see God working through you.
My mom likes to quote HER mom as saying, "If you can't say something nice then don't say something at all." I keep thinking I need to follow her advice. But then my sense of wit and sarcasm gets to me and I break and I tell the guy, "You're so dumb, blondes tell jokes about YOU." or I tell the drunk guy, "You're a couple knights short of a Crusade there buddy, a couple Brady's short of a bunch!"
Well, I'm a jerk. I acknowledge it. When is confession?