Me, My Selfishness and I

23 11 2010

How do things get “formed” in a person?  I wonder about some traits that I have; what happened, probably happened repeatedly that shaped my thinking in certain directions? Sometimes, when I run across a certain “belief” I hold, I will sit here and wonder how that came about?

This morning I am reflecting on the topics of being selfish or strong-willed. I was doing some reading and the author identified some areas where one can live in a self-centered kind of way:

  • Where it concerns my dignity
  • Where it concerns my comfort
  • Where it concerns my privacy
  • Where it concerns my possessions

Some of those I do not struggle with. But I realized that in at least one area — my dignity — I do. It is sort of an abstract thing to get at. Dignity is a look or way of behaving that suggests seriousness and self-control. It has to do also with feeling or being treated in a worthy manner.  Dignity is an important and good thing to be aware of, especially when it concerns giving dignity to others. One’s personal dignity isn’t to be ignored either, but there is this line where the right to dignity can get in the way of Christ’s work which sometimes feels, frankly, undignified.

I sat here thinking about powerlessness and how I do not like that feeling. To be clear, it isn’t an issue of “power” (in that megalomaniac kind of way); it has more to do with something being taken from me without my choice. It has to do mostly with how I am “treated” more than physically having something taken away from me.

So, as I reflect on my life, immediately I can recall moments of feeling “powerless” to affect my environment. Without psychoanalyzing it all, I can see how brick by brick this thing gets built to where Jesus has to, at times, pry my fingers off my dignity so that I can trust Him even when I feel stripped of something.

I am reminded again and again that Christ made Himself nothing and endured such incredible loss culminating in the loss of His life (Philippians 2:3-8 in the Bible). Such humiliation He endured and continues to endure as humankind insults their Maker. One would think this would make my puny humiliations easier. But it doesn’t because ultimately I am selfish; sacrificing anything is hard.

Personal power is so easily attainable (in many cases): one purchase away; one simple decision away; one relational option over another; one little compromise that gives me the advantage. It is so easy to put myself in an advantageous position; so easy I can taste it.

It is the chilling thought of giving up of one’s coat that makes me hesitate. It is the going the extra mile that seems unfair. It is holding my tongue and enduring indignities that is a killer. Do you know what I mean?

Laying aside one’s dignity…I am not talking about being a doormat; I am talking about being a welcome mat. I am talking about love instead of proving a point. I am talking about serving another human being who may or may not deserve it.

Thinking about this today…

— Teresa Klassen




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