Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blessed Self-Forgetfulness

I hate grass. No, I mean I really hate grass. At least during the pollen season.
I spent last Sunday huddling inside my own Notre Dame's belltower known as the couch, trying to avoid the repulsed reactions of disgust upon the faces of my brothers and sisters at church. My eye was swollen up as big as a congresssional ego (well, maybe not that big) so that I looked like Rocky after his fight with Apollo. It was not fun!

There's something good about being very irritated and uncomfortable, though. I tend to take my health for granted (hence the thrice-used treadmill in the garage). It's not until some body-part isn't working correctly that I really take notice of it, seemingly without taking a break in its attention grabbing endeavors. I don't think about how nice it is to breathe at night until I've awakened for the 25th time to blow my nose, only to find that even after expelling the tissue I am plugged up again. In the same way I don't realize how nice it is to see well until your eyes itch so badly and swell up until you can see parts of them that you shouldn't naturally be able to see.

My ego is like that, too. It's broken and sick. It wants to be noticed all the time, calling attention to itself through complaining and gossip, challenging others and feeling wounded when its brokenness is revealed. I'm always feeling my ego drawing attention to itself like an itchy pollen laden eyelid. It cares so much about what other people think, comparing itself to others trying to gain an advantage over them so that it will think that it's good. It's not working correctly.

According to our Lord, it is in humility that we find salvation. It is in contrition, not competition that we find our redemption. My ego so wants to perform and achieve so that I can boast and control my own life. Jesus calls me to come and die. You see, humility is not merely not bragging, or in viewing oneself as low and worthless. Even when we view oursleves as low and worthless we are still looking at our ego! We're still comparing and defending. Only when we forget about the ego are we at peace. Only when we are at rest in the work of Christ for us as complete, sufficient, adequate, and powerfully eternal are we humbled and emboldened enough to forget about us and place our eyes upon our illustrious Redeemer. Here is where true humility lies.

When my eyes are upon Jesus and His work I may be attacked and wounded by others, but my soul rests in Him and clings to Him. I am not devastated by failure or others' recognition of my ego's weaknesses. I can agree with it and rejoice in the work of my Jesus. I have forgotten about myself and cease to compare myself to others, but rather rest myself in Christ. I do not need to defend myself and my achievement or failures, for I am wrapped in the achievement and holiness of Jesus. Blessed self-forgetfulness.

When my body is working right I do not notice it. When my ego is working right, humbly secure in Christ, I do not notice it. The world thinks that the only way to cure low self-esteem is with a bigger ego, but that's no answer for the bigger my ego the more that I notice it and am hurt and angry and bitter when it gets snubbed. The cure for low self-esteem is to forget self-esteem and find Christ-esteem. "I am more sinful than I can dare to admit. Yet in Christ I am more loved than I can even dare to imagine." Blessed self-forgetfulness in the clarity of vision that is Jesus, who gave Himself up for me that I might be called a child of God. Who am I to fear? Who am I to boast? I cannot fear and I cannot boast when I believe the gospel, for I was chosen by God's grace and I am deeply loved for all of eternity by the One who made eternity. Blessed Self-forgetfulness.

May the allergens of life's woes call you to humiliation and the joyful rest of blessed self-forgetfulness in Christ. He is trustworthy, so trust Him.