Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Here's Looking at You

Did you ever notice it's hard to focus on what's going on around you when you're looking at yourself in the mirror? Whether it's putting on makeup, brushing teeth, or checking out a zit.... if someone is trying to talk to me, I find myself answering without really listening, or I end up saying, what a lot.

It's a nightly problem with Elliot while I'm trying to help brush his teeth. I have to say to him over and over again, "Stop looking at yourself in the mirror!", as he gets distracted by checking himself out, or making silly faces, and turns his head away from the attempted toothbrushing. The problem continues as he spits out his toothpaste while looking in the mirror, and instead of going neatly down the drain, it dribbles down his chin and neck, or sprays all over the bathroom sink area.

Sometimes I feel like God speaks to me through my son and his normal, childlike actions, which often trickle metaphorically, and in various forms, into our lives as adults. While pondering Elliot's mirror issues, I remember myself as a child. Sometimes when I'd get sad or upset about something, I would go stand in front of the bathroom mirror and watch myself cry. As self-pity increased, I would cry harder and longer, until too exhausted to do anything but collapse. I remember my mom lovingly telling me to stop this silliness, she of course recognizing the effect it was having - but for some reason I insisted on repeating this ritual of downward-spiraling agony.

Wallowing in self-pity is something most of us have done in our adult lives at one time or other. It's easy to do. Just thinking about what we want and don't have, comparing ourselves to others, and wondering what if things had been different, can send us down the rabbit hole. And it's only one of the negatives that can result in our lives from being overly focused on ourselves, to the point of denying God the worship which is our attention, and forgetting the feelings of others. Think about it: resentment, jealousy, arrogance, feelings of rejection, anxiety, insecurity, and on and on goes the list. How much less would these arise in us if only our eyes were fixed on Jesus, or our hearts moved to care more about the hurting people around us, and if not for the constant what about me? ringing by the hour in our heads?

It's a simple thought, old as humanity, but one that came clear and new to me this week - so I thought I would share.

Here are some verses that came to mind, echoing similar ponderings.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

4-11In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don't feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?

My dear child, don't shrug off God's discipline,
but don't be crushed by it either.
It's the child he loves that he disciplines;
the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out. He's treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God's training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best. At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.

12-13So don't sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!

Hebrews 12:1-13 (The Message version)

Anyone who listens to the word, but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror, and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does.

James 1:23-25

1 comment:

Sarah said...

wow, Eva. really, REALLY good. thanks for the exhortation :)