Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Selfish, Selfless, Self-Absorbed, Forgetting Yourself

Recently, because I am wont to participate in Facebook joking and teasing, I teased a friend about her status update. I can't remember it exactly but it had something to do with being childlike vs. being childish. I made a joke about farts or something. She challenged me to come up with an example of being childlike. I was stumped. But I didn't let it go. I've been thinking about it ever since.

Since I enjoy referring to my own work, I will say that it made me think about what I wrote about my childhood memories. There was something there that I couldn't articulate that seemed to contain the very essence of being childlike. The Bible encourages us to have a childlike faith. What does this mean? In my most reflective times--doing dishes, giving and taking baths--I've found myself thinking about it.

I also spend a lot of time thinking about the contradiction that is professed by modern culture. We laud people for being heroic. We also tell people that it's important to have "me-time" everyday. While I don't think the two are mutually exclusive, I think it's difficult to strike a constant balance. Perhaps we aren't meant to. Perhaps we're incapable of constant balance. We are not programmable after all. We are human and prone to sloth and pride. We can overdo being heroic and we can overdo our "me time."

It occurred to me, however, that the way to best balance being heroic with taking care of our needs is to forget one's self. We naturally learn how to protect ourself from hurt, embarrassment and discomfort from early on. Think of how it felt the first time you exuberantly waved back to someone across a distance only to realize they were waving to someone behind you. EMBARRASSING!! This might seem pithy, but I feel like it's a good example of how we learn to protect ourselves from early on.

We cannot appear too zealous or excited about things if other people aren't going to return that zeal or excitement. But children can. My little kids retain the ability to be unselfconscious about their interests. They aren't interested in whether or not I share this excitement, they only want me to listen to their descriptions.

It is this kind of zeal that is necessary for conversion--for constant conversion, for I believe it is a dynamic process. We are constantly being called into closer and closer relationship with God. Whether or not we are responding is what furthers or retards that growth. If we are able to forget ourselves and follow that call we will receive faith in kind. We will grow and mature as Christians. But it is not easy to continually grow closer to God. We will have changing appetites. We will want different things than friends and family who aren't in the same process.

Sharing about that growth requires vulnerability. It requires us to overcome the potential feeling of looking behind us and seeing the actual person who was being waved at. Overcoming the rush of embarrassment when others laugh at our lack of self-awareness. Because becoming more and more consumed with God means we become less and less consumed with ourselves. We will be putting many other things before our "me time" and we will want more of what God wants for us.

So when I think of what it might be like to have a childlike faith it is this: being able to go into your world, your vocation, every day with a foolish grin and a quick, responsive wave to every person that crosses your path--be it a wide, public path or a small, private path. It might even be addressing them by name even if they don't know yours. It is this kind of self-forgetfulness that enables us to want the good grace of God for others and to be able to be transmittors of that good grace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

LOVE hearing your thoughts. I would add that childlikeness (I think?) is the ability to lose yourself in joy.