Tuesday, May 4, 2010
He was busy!!
I have been, for most of my life, an incurably busy person. Pushing my way up as a minister, seeking to move from "success" to "success", from small church, to medium church, to large church. Building programs through a international disaster relief program, developing curriculum in medicine and spirituality at a medical school, and now building a nonprofit program serving vulnerable people. Oh, and on the side trying to be a part-time pastor.
And yes, I have "succeeded", at least in some ways. Churches have grown, grants have been won, people have been served, and my current program is great, multifaceted, and growing. But, at another level, I wonder.
My first question recently has been related to why I am the way I am? And my only conclusion is that I am driven by a constant need to prove myself. To whom? Good question! I am not so sure about that. To God? Probably. Others? Undoubtedly! To myself? Yes, probably most of all to myself.
Why must I do this? Because somewhere, somehow I got it into my brain that in order to experience love and acceptance one has to earn it, deserve it. And that one must strive everyday to be a person people look up to, admire, find wise, witty, effective. Somehow being busy and productive became equated with being lovable.
Perhaps this is because deep down I realize that I am a paradox. That I am a lot of contradictory things. I and smart and foolish, kind and harsh, honest and dishonest, hopeful and hopeless. I am dark and light, good and bad. And I have always suspected that if I ever let the "dark" side of myself show, I would be rejected, looked down upon. Perhaps, and this is the worst of all, pitied. "Oh you poor dear. I'll pray for you."
But this creates a problem. It means I am always striving, trying, working, hiding, trying to impress. I am always trying to put my best side forward while trying to hide the parts of me I don't like, or of which I am ashamed. So I am incurably active, I go around "serving" but I am anxious, distracted, insecure, stiff, and closed. And the result?
I miss out on a lot. I had a dream the other day. I dreamed that I had died and that I could hear what people said about my at my funeral. What did they say? "He was busy!"
That is not the legacy I want to leave behind. I want people to say that I cared, that I loved, that I had time, that I listened. And what struck me was that the only way I would get there, would be to be at ease with myself. To accept myself enough that I could just "be".
And how does that happen? By accepting the acceptance of God. By experiencing God's love, which is after all, ferocious, and unrelenting. It is that simple, and that difficult. That is the path to sainthood. As Merton put it, "A saint is not someone who is good but someone who experiences the goodness of God."
Secure in God's love, I accept the totality of who I am. I can accept that I am loved. And thus I can get outside myself, and be with others. God has seen me, all of me. The good, the bad, the skeletons in my closet, everything. And God loves me. I can trust in that, accept that gift, and live the gift of grace.
I like the way Brennan Manning describes the person who trusts, really trusts God's love. "He is not all exhaust and no intake. She does not impose herself on others. He listens well because he knows he has so much to learn from others. Her spirituality enables her to enter the world of the other. . . "
Wow. That is where I want to be! I don't want to be merely - busy.