Today I’m thankful. I’m thankful for these times when my pride is not stoked by fleeting notions of self-confidence. As many times as I’ve been here before, you’d think that my footing would be more steadfast and that I wouldn’t become so easily distracted by all that glitters around me. But, my attention span is short and the stream of consciousness that helps my memory to inform my ability to make good decisions in the present is full of static and, at best, inconsistent.
As a fifth grade teacher and a father to a five-year old son and ten-year old daughter, I could give you multiple examples, from each and every new day, of times that I’ve become frustrated to one degree or another by the inability that most children have to consider the big picture when making decisions about how they act, what they say, and what they do. Because, at the age of 37, my own thought processes have developed over the years, I sometimes take for granted, in a given moment, the fact that their priorities don’t always match mine. Of course, its silly to think that they children would see everything the way I do, but, because I’m so often concerned primarily with my own priorities and perspective, too often, I fail to consider theirs and, as a result, do a disservice to them and to myself, becoming frustrated in the process.
An excerpt from a devotional I read the other day cut straight to the core of my problem:
The fundamental secret of Jesus in relation to his disciples was his sovereign respect for their dignity. They were persons, not toys, functions, or occasions for personal compensation. In the Lucan account of the Passion, the evangelist notes that after Peter’s third denial of Jesus “the Lord turned around and looked at Peter…” In that look the reality of recognition was disclosed. Peter knew that no man had ever loved him and no woman could ever love him as Jesus did. The Man whom he had confessed as the Christ, the Son of the living God, looked into his eyes, saw the transparent terror there, watched him act out the dreadful drama of his security addiction, and loved him. The love of Jesus for Peter lay in his complete and unconditional acceptance of him. We who so automatically place conditions on our love (“if you really loved me you would…”) fail to see that this is an exchange – not unconditional love. We tack on one of our addictions to finish the sentence. Reality must live up to our expectations.
-From Devotions for Ragamuffins, by Brennan Manning, Pp.202
Much like I explained in my last post Choosing Thread, too easily I get caught up in finding ways to feed my own addictions. My own insecurities wreak havoc in my daily life. On the other hand, good moments, when my ego gets a boost, tend to go to my head and begin to monopolize my existence, building up my confidence without any foundation until the inevitable point when reality strikes and, rather than just taking a blow, my confidence plummets to the cold floor. I guess, I’m the guy who builds his house, each day, on the shifting sand and, far too often, finds that it has fallen, but, instead of learning from the mishap, the next day, I build it on that same sand.
What I need is something more consistent. I need to base my actions and my words – the way I treat others – on something much more substantial than my own addictions. The devotion mentioned above hit me so hard because, in the moment when it describes Jesus looking at Peter and the subsequent shame that Peter experienced, I can relate so well.
But, if I can start making the choice to build each day on a solid rock foundation, not taking others for granted and, instead, loving them the way that I would want to be loved, unconditionally, sandy personal comforts be damned, I think I’ll find a level of freedom and inner peace that I’ve never experienced before.
Today I’m thankful.