“Are you ever hurt, Dad?” Carol asked.
The question stumped Ted, her dad. A dozen hurts raced through his mind, but none came out.
“Of course he gets hurt,” Carol’s mother shot back.
How (and why) do macho men conceal our hurt? Should we wear it more visibly?
These are questions I find difficult to answer. But at the root of this thought is a much more powerful question: “Is our heavenly Father ever hurt?” Or, more pointedly, “How do I hurt Him?”
In the recent best seller, “The Purpose Driven Life,” author Rick Warren asserts that “It’s not about you.” But our entire existence is one of self-reflection. “How do I look?” “How did I come off in that situation?” “Does this person like me?” “Can I compete with him?”
The question is, how can we rise above this complete self-centeredness into the spirit of self-sacrificing love?
This process drives us mad, and starts in our infancy.
In most healthy families, we learn about unconditional love from our parents. They feed us, they change our diapers, they comfort us, they pamper us, hug us and adore us to the core. These things bring us alive and make us feel loved and protected. We bear our family name and get our identity from it. It’s totally about me.
Then brothers and sisters arrive. We have to share the stage. We fight them. They fight back. We are punished for our selfishness and told to get along. We must learn to apologize, say we were wrong and reconcile. In the midst of this struggle, we realize that the family is stuck together. But it’s still about me.
We realize that our family will disappoint us, so we go fishing for friends. These friends look good on the outside, so we decide that we can love them. In the end, we find that these friends are just like our family. Disillusionment sets in. “How can I have meaningful relationships?” It’s still about me.
Out of the blue comes a member of the opposite sex. Wow. Our heart pumps and hormones rage. We find ourselves buying flowers, writing notes, and feeling terribly illogical. This isn’t necessarily love at all. For some of us, it’s just lust. But we pursue it nonetheless. We begin to become a different person. Our values change. And when it’s all said and done, most of us are nursing a broken heart. And then it’s really about us.
Eventually we marry. We yearn for love and fulfillment from this life partner. We believe we have security in this relationship, so this time we’ll find love and meaning. We raise our expectations and try to derive meaning from marriage. But this too disappoints. And we’re left with ourselves.
So we have children. Here we learn to shed some of our selfish impulses. We lay down our lives for the children, and this feels very natural. All too often, we live vicariously through them and build high expectations for their lives. Much higher than for ourselves. It’s still about us.
In every relationship, God waits for us. After 40 years or more, we realize more deeply that He’s been there, that He’s faithful. He really just wants us to love him—and to display this love in our treatment of others. Each type of relationship becomes its own classroom, each setback its own set of lessons. Eventually we discover that it’s all about Him. Some of us learn sooner, some later. Some of us learn the lesson more deeply. But we all discover that this life is really about Him.
How close are you to this discovery?
What about yourself are you most concerned with?
Regardless of actual age, what stage of life are you in?
Ⓒ Revolworks 2018