we gave it up

I want you to live a life of compassion.

I honestly and truly believe it’s the life we were created to live. It’s the way we are the best versions of ourselves. We find the greatest depth in life when we live an other centred life. Life lived in community is best. Groups of people living lives marked by grace and love for each other and their neighbours creates a communities people want to be a part of.

But it’s not without its costs.

This week I want to look at what some of those costs are. I’m big into transparency. I try my best to be open and honest about every aspect of my life. This space is littered with my failures and flaws. I don’t hide how and what I am, at least I try not to.

In the same way I don’t want you to start into this life not realizing what it may cost.

This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned cost, but it bears reminding.

When thinking about cost if can’t help but come back to Dietrich Bonhoeffer when he wrote “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” This resonates with me in a way that’s hard to describe.

It almost haunts me.

I understand it, I believe it, I just didn’t realize it when I started down this path. I knew that God called all of us not just parts but I didn’t grasp the extent to which all means….well all I guess.

I wonder when it will end. When will I have given enough?

“God wouldn’t ask me to give up ____ would he?”

And that’s the point of this week. Not to discourage you but that you know what you’re in for.

One of the things you’ll need to die to is the approval of others. Not everyone, but most.

The approval of my wife matters a great deal to me, as it should. We’re a team doing life together. If she doesn’t approve of what I’m doing or who I am, it’s because I’m doing something stupid. But I can’t live my life in search of the approval of everyone.

It might be odd to talk about the approval of others when we started with the idea of being other centred but it’s very present and it’s subversive to what we’re doing.

Ironically one of the ways we can strive for approval is one of the biggest parts of this entire journey, sharing our story.

Ever hear someone tell a story about what they’re doing and walk away not feeling encouraged that you can do the same but rather that the story teller seems to think rather highly of themselves?

It’s not hard to boast in our compassion.

It’s not hard to talk down to people who are new to the idea and the life style.

It’s not hard to judge those who don’t agree with you or do as much as you think you do.

It’s not hard to share all the amazing things you’re doing hoping to hear “wow that’s amazing. I don’t think I could do that” or “I hope I can be more like you” or just simply so that everyone knows how good you are. Specifically how much more good you are than them.

So what do we do? How do we share stories but not boast and seek approval?

Two steps.

First, whenever possible share someone else’s story.

Talk about this amazing person you’ve meet and what they are doing. Share stories from people in your community doing something cool. You don’t have to share names, it’s about the story not the person.

“I was talking with this guy who…”

“A heard about this family in my church who is…”

If you don’t have one from a friend, share yours but don’t say it’s yours. Tell it as though it’s someone else’s. Let it be about the story and not you.

The second, which is admittedly more difficult, is to quickly reflect on why.

Why are you telling this story? What are you hoping will happen? Will this build up the listener or build up you?

This means there will be times you don’t share your story. It means there will be amazing things you do that no one knows about.

And it’s not because what you did isn’t worth sharing. It just means that in certain situations with certain people sharing becomes boasting and we shift from other centered to ego centred.

It’s the times you hear others boasting all the good work they do and you want to jump in.

It’s the times you hear someone talking and you want to put them in their place because they aren’t as good as they say they are or really doing all the much.

It’s the times you force in a story about how great you are when the conversation never allowed it.

It’s the times that you are the center.

We don’t get to be the center anymore. We gave it up.

And sometimes when you haven’t’ heard a thank you in months, you are struggling to keep putting others first, you are biting your tongue and responding with grace you just want to shout:

YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH I GIVE OF MYSELF!

WHY DOES NO ONE CARE!?

IS THIS WORTH IT!?

I think it is. I think this is the life we were made to live.

It’s not the easiest life, but it is the life of greatest depth and the one I think Christ has called us to.

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