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Entries in self-centered (1)

Tuesday
Mar192013

communityness

I'm easy.

Down boy, I mean I'm easy to rile up or stress out or otherwise get button-pushy with. My close friends used to have a little gag they'd drag out whenever they wanted to get me going on something. They'd make some ridiculous statement, then I'd rush in all angry and annoyed and righteously indignant and go on a rant for several minutes. To REALLY get under my skin they'd pretend to tap some unseen buttons in the air before them and make beeping and whistling noises. Pushing my buttons.

It always worked. I'm easy, like I said. I have a hair trigger, especially when it comes to things that I think I'm an expert on. Really it comes down to a profound arrogance on my part. I think I'm better and smarter, and anything that counters my POV is wrong, wrong, WRONG!

It's one of my more disgusting personality traits, and one that has held me back for decades. And it's the one that I'm attacked on constantly. When sin starts trickling out of me, its source is usually my arrogance and narcissism. 

So counter to what I want to be. So counter to who I really am, deep down. I'm someone who wants to love people, to help them, to protect them, to encourage and inspire them. That's my role in life, I think. I am the man who looks for ways to build people up. If I spend all my time building myself up instead, what good am I? Who am I helping when I'm only helping myself? Who am I encouraging when I am only boosting my own ego? Who am I, if alll I am focused on is what I think I know, and how much I think I'm better than you?

Nothin'. Nobody. Not worth the time of day.

The whole point of life is to live in community with others. We're built for community. We're social animals, dependent on each for strength, support, validation. God built a pretty good machine, when He built each of us. But he built an infinitely pliable and powerful machine in community.

That's why I'm struggling, daily, with bringing myself around to a new way of thinking. I want to change that part of me that thinks "me first" all the time, and start nurturing the part that asks, "How can I help? How can I serve? How can I love?"

People will sometimes take advantage of your good nature, if they know that your goal is to help and to serve. That's OK. It can't last. It seems weird, and somehow contradictory, but in my experience the people who take advantage of you most will often just wander away. They don't trust that what they're getting is the real deal. They start to think that somehow you're pulling one over on them. Nobody is THAT helpful, right? 

The truth is, we see in people what we see in ourselves. We relate to people by looking for those traits we share with them. That's how relationships start. "You like Doctor Who? I like Doctor Who!" And a friendship is born.

So people who cheat or steal from others will most often see everything as an attempt to cheat or steal from them. And if you are offering them a hand, with nothing asked for in exchange, then it's probably because you're running a grift. You can't be trusted. So they cut you off.

Same can be said of the arrogant. My biggest complaint about people? "They're selfish. They only think of themselves. They just want me to pay attention to their every word." And in my most honest moments, I can look at myself and see that I am the person I'm describing. Selfish. Self-centered. Self-motivated. 

Changing that means embracing a couple of tough ideas. We're made for community, but we're also made for service. 

Loving others the way you love yourself—in Romans 13:8-12 the Bible tells us that love is the fulfillment of the law. Basically, if you are concentrating on loving your neighbors, you aren't concentrating stealing what they have, committing adultery, murdering someone, or any of the other laws you could be breaking. Love them like you'd love yourself, and you don't have to worry about "right and wrong/legal and illegal." You're fulfilling the law and the greatest commandment from God.

Cool, huh? 

Loving others like I love myself—that's a lot of lovin', for sure. If I spent my time focusing on encouraging and building up others the way I try to build up my own ego, I'd have more friends, I'd have more opportunities, I'd build a bigger, stronger community that could back me up in my time of need. A community of like minds, always thinking about each other, always sure that others are up to somethin', alright. Up to somethin' good.