It’s not about the nail

Nail in a tireMy email brought a link to a video called, “It’s Not About the Nail.” The woman whines about the effects of a nail in her head, but gets upset if the man suggests that she remove it.

The message promised that men would find it hilarious and women would wind up wondering if men would ever get it.

I’m a man. I found it hilarious. I also recognized that, apart from the stereotypes of the different conversation styles on Mars and Venus, the video points to a more profound truth.

Men and women fall into this subtler trap equally. Why do so many people, men and women alike, cling to behaviors and conditions that only cause them pain? What’s the benefit?

So men, watch the video. It’s hilarious. Women, you’ll probably find it hilarious, too. If not, bear with me.

She has a nail sticking out of her forehead? She wants sympathy for all her symptoms? But refuses to consider that maybe the nail has something to do with them?

There’s more than a nail in her head. There’s also the insistence that the nail has nothing to do with it.

What does she want with the nail? Why is she protecting and defending it? Is there some good reason for it? Some perceived payoff? What if the nail stands for some cherished habit that gives benefits she can acknowledge, but pain that she won’t? What if the nail stands for a cherished habit of yours or mine?

  • I hate it that bill collectors keep dunning me for late payments. It’s not about my impulsive spending.
  • I hate it that my wife/husband doesn’t treat me as nicely as when we were married. It’s not about who else I sleep with.
  • I hate it that people don’t seem to be very open to me. It’s not about my gossiping.
  • I hate it that I can’t keep friends very long. It’s not about my being so high maintenance.
  • I hate it that my mother/ex-boyfriend/co-worker torments me when I’m not even with them. It’s not about my unforgiveness.
  • I hate it when God promises one thing in his word and my life is exactly the opposite. It’s not about my unbelief.

It’s all in your head

Someone says, “It’s all in your head,” and we hear it as, “It’s imaginary, not real.” If that’s true, there’s no hope either for sympathy or for relief.

Instead, it means, “The problem is with your stinking thinking.” And that’s really liberating. After all, there is not much that any of us can really control: our own actions, our own words, and our own thoughts, from which the actions and words result.

The trouble is, we try to control and manipulate everything else. It doesn’t work.

Let’s consider the following scriptures:

  • As (someone) thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7)
  • For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. (Mark 11:23)
  • Then he touched [the blind men’s] eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” (Matthew 9:29)

Suppose I want to be seen as generous, but constantly think stingy thoughts. What am I? Stingy! If I recognize how people see me as a consequence of my thoughts, doesn’t that truth give me the power to change first myself and then the perceptions of others?

Suppose I say to some problem in my life, “Get outta my way?” and then constantly tell everyone how mountainous it is and how nothing seems to help me deal with it. What do I believe in my heart? What do I say? What happens? It looks to me like Jesus says the mountain will move only if I believe and therefore say it will.

Suppose I constantly worry. None of the specific things I worry about ever happen quite that way, of course, but bad things tend to show up constantly in my life. Isn’t worry faith in a bad outcome?

Jesus virtually prayed that the blind men would receive according to their faith. They did. Why should anyone think he’d treat us any differently?

Is it about the nail? Of course it’s about the nail. As long as we insist it’s not about the nail, we’ll keep experiencing the pain of the nail.

We’ve all heard stories about someone who goes to a doctor with puzzling pain, and the x-rays reveal an unsuspecting foreign object. Maybe even a nail. This video isn’t about that situation.

It’s about a nail that the woman knows very well is sticking from her head. The visible nail is less a problem than the thought that it’s not about the nail. Relief can only start when she admits to herself that, yes, maybe it is about the nail.

The video might be less funny with the roles reversed. It wouldn’t be any less true.

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by Mark Hillary.

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