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Yes, but...

Friday, December 15, 2000

Matthew 11:16-17
Jesus says, "To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
"We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn."

In his book Games People Play, pyschotherapist Eric Berne describes one of the best known games of all, "Why don't you...yes, but!" In this game one player tries to provoke either helplessness or exasperation in the other, thereby gaining a sense of superiority. It requires two players, which Berne labels White and Black. White presents a problem, and Black offers solutions ("Why don't you...). To each solution, White then objects with a "yes, but..."

Berne writes, "A good player can stand off the others indefinitely until they all give up, whereupon White the majority of cases White is as intelligent as anyone else in the company, and it is very unlikely that others will suggest any solution that she has not thought of herself...The purpose of the game is not to get suggestions, but to reject them."

Jesus walks away from the game; he's not willing to play, so there are no longer two players. The leaders of the church ask for a messenger from God but object first to John, then to Jesus. One way to never feel small is to never let anyone else be big. One way to never be wrong is to never let anyone else be right.

Jesus won't play the game, and neither should we. Offering a problem for solution when what I really want to do is express my frustration or anger puts me immediately in the White position, because I don't really want an answer. This attracts the other player in the game, who revels in the feeling of having an answer when someone else has a problem. We both play the game hard, because I need to be angry and the other player needs to be right. And we both can't win.

Yuck! Get out! Once the actual nasty dynamics are uncovered, psychological games aren't much fun anymore. It requires some personal honesty and self-awareness to notice them, both definitely worth developing. I want to follow Jesus all the way to the growth bank on this one.

Thanks, Lord, for knowing me better than I know myself. See if there are any unrighteous ways in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

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