Life with Jesus has seemed to me lately simply growing in self-forgetfulness. If I had to summarize all of the work that I have seen God do in my life in the past decade, it would probably be something along these lines.
He keeps carving out more and more space in my heart and mind to think of others (including the Other). He uses self-awareness as a spade to hollow out my opaque self-centerednesses. My ever-widening self-awareness convicts me moment-by-moment of my self-obsession, especially in the nooks of false humility and the crannies of self-righteous pride in my heart. He continues to call me to the basics of repentance (willingness to see and know myself and the ways that I’m hurting the people around me) and confession (saying it out loud to God and others). He recreates me over and over again as a more transparent being who can love others more deeply simply because, by thinking less of self, I am more mindful of them.
And it changes everything.
- self-remembering me: “I need to make sure that I get my message and my agenda across because they definitely need to hear my ideas. What can I say or do that will make my co-workers think more of me and my skills, abilities, expertise?
- self-forgetting me: “How can I offer my skills, abilities, expertise to benefit our company and each of the humans involved in it – from the lowliest employee to the highest executive? What sacrifice might God be asking me to make so that the lives and jobs of others can be better, richer?”
On a date (eros or phileo):
- self-remembering me: “What is this person thinking about me – I hope they think I’m smart, pretty, and witty!? What should I say next that would be funny? What story do I have to share that is related to this one?”
- self-forgetting me: “Who is this person? I appreciate him/her so much! How can I encourage him/her in this moment? Their story is worth listening to! What do they need from me to feel understood?”
- self-remembering me: “Stop it! Just stop it! Stop crying; stop fussing; stop being loud and crazy! And above all: stop embarrassing me! I can’t do this. You need to get your $h1t together or else I’m going to lose mine.”
- self-forgetting me: “What is going on in this little human right now? What is the root source of their behavior and emotions? What does this little person need most from me in this moment in order to build character and help him/her be all that God made him/her to be?”
The path of self-forgetfulness is renewably humbling. I sense very deeply that I am not at all close to arriving anywhere; I seem entirely, irreversibly ‘wired’ for self-remembrance. Even my seemingly others-focused tasks and prayers are, in the end self-remembrance. But I am honored to be invited on the pilgrimage. And I have the best Guide, who forgot Himself all the way to Calvary.