My column below was originally printed in NewsBreak (April 2010). It is available for free reprint.
Losing Jesus on the cross left the disciples with some serious self-image issues. Without Him, who were they, really? Until He rose on the third day, they were more or less adrift, left to ponder the choices they’d made, the homes they’d left, the uncertainty of what lay ahead.
We live in an increasingly narcissistic world. Social media exults the minutia of our less-than-newsworthy daily tasks. Reality TV has made “stars” out of those willing to risk personal safety, reveal intimate details of their marriage and child-rearing, gratify unbridled ego trips or engage in promiscuous encounters on camera.
In many ways, the amount of time I’ve devoted to my spiritual path–through constant self-reflection and self-awareness–is just as self-centered. Hi, my name is Rebecca. I’m an egomaniac.
About a year ago, I discovered the love-filled adventure of forgiveness. I let go of everything that happened only a minute before, and released everything that may happen in the next, leaving only enough room to listen and respond as God would have me. (Hint: His advice is often “love and forgive.”) When I offer only love and forgiveness, others act so loveable! Who doesn’t glow around the people who love, forgive and adore them?
Yet, I still struggled to feel connected. It didn’t make sense. To be with Jesus is to be in joy. So what gives? Consider the individual prayers God must answer; He has taken a personal interest in each one of us. Imagine if He were too busy thinking about His own stuff?
The disciples shared the Messiah’s interests; they went where He went because they loved Him. When I replaced time thinking about my needs with the interests of others–loving them as He has loved me–my joy has been complete. As a result, I’ve run some inconvenient errands. But God has unleashed in me a happiness occurring minute by minute in all circumstances.
When you imagine people getting along in a family, among friends, or in a workplace, they are engaged in a shared project, shared joke or similar interest. To reconnect with loved ones, take heed of 1Corinthians13:5 and stop keeping record of wrongs. To make new friends, we need to stop telling our own story and start listening to others’.
Worried you won’t have a good time? One person’s enthusiasm for jazz or baseball is another person’s snoozefest, right? Engaging in other people’s interests demonstrates respect and affection, allowing you to grow closer and drop unfounded judgments. Today, I know more about Star Wars than I ever deemed necessary, but I enjoy a closeness with my sons and husband I would have otherwise missed.
If you’re an egomaniac like me, you may be thinking, “But I want others to take a greater interest in me.” With all your new interests, you will be more interesting. The people you’ve gifted with your attention will feel closer to you. As you give, so shall you receive.