Dearest Children of mine,
You will have a flaw. In fact, you will have many flaws. But you need to know your deepest flaws.
We all have surface flaws. Flaws that seem like a big deal but don’t actually matter all that much. You might forget to hang up your towel after you shower and let it grow mold on the floor. You might not notice the stunningly lengthy nose hairs protruding from each nostril. You might talk incessantly about your passion to folks who don’t care a whip about it. You might care a little bit too much about your clothes or your car or your looks.
We try to cover-up or ignore our deepest flaws. Sometimes our deepest flaws are strengths that turn into negative forces. Sometimes they are just pernicious parts of our personality. The gregarious leader turns bossy. The good listener cowardly refuses to speak out in a situation full of conflict with the excuse that she wants to “hear all sides.” The passionate believer closes her ears to anyone with a different viewpoint. The charismatic leader manipulates his followers. The skillful belittles the weak.
If you are not aware of your deep flaws, if you are not constantly working on them either through prayer or deepening self-awareness, your flaws will be working on you. You will wake up one day, and you will not know why people avoid you. You will not know why your marriage is broken. You will not know why your children do not respect you. One thing is certainly true: you may not know your deepest flaw, but those close to you do.
CS Lewis once wrote about the power of a deepest flaw: “Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others… but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine” (Lewis The Great Divorce).
So my advice to you is this: know your deepest flaw. If it’s a grumbling spirit, a prideful capability, or a willful disobedience or defiant proclivity, or any other deep flaw…. get to know it. Stop pretending your small flaws are the ones that matter. Stop trying to shove your deepest flaw under the bed. Stop trying to hide it in the basement. Stop leaving it in the shadows and pretending like it’s not there. For what is evil gains power from darkness and ignorance. Instead, throw open the shades, pick up the flashlight, turn on the overhead lamp. When you shed light on your deepest flaws, you gain the power. You can pray, you can practice, you can discipline, and you can overcome. But first, you must know.