Spitball self

Today I helped make a powerpoint, ate some junk food, and requested books by Feuerbach, Calvin, and Barth from the library. For some reason, I was the first in line for all of those.

I bet there’s still a waiting list for 50 Shades of Grey. If only people would wake up and see what they’re missing in literature.

I’ve had four days at my new job, one whole workweek down (because they let me have Fridays off!). I walked past one of the companies that didn’t hire me yesterday on my way to the baseball game downtown. It’s the second floor of a building on Washington Avenue. I felt a little wounded as I walked by, even with the comfort of knowing that what I have now is better. Oh, I just want people to like me and to think I’m a valuable asset. Don’t we all?

So now I’m sitting alone in my living room hearing the faint noises of my parents watching TV together downstairs and wondering if corn chips go with Lambrusco. I’m going to bet that any self-respecting wine snob wouldn’t do this.

I’m wondering how you develop a sense of self, partly because I think I’m in some pretty critical stages of doing so with all this newness and the many transitions that I keep finding myself a part of. Webster’s is a surprisingly thoughtful source for what a self is, referring to ownership, individuality, and wholeness.

I find tension in my ideas of what “being myself” is, because I think of being myself as doing, saying, and being the way I feel most comfortable in my own skin. I feel most myself when I’m listening and speaking without feeling the need to impress someone with my response, when I’m reading a thoughtful book, when I’m writing something a little bit different than what I’ve read, when I’m cooking.

Yet here’s the tension: I’m not called to be myself. God never said, “To thine own self be true.” (That was Shakespeare.) The God of the Bible tells me to take up my cross daily (not comfortable, puts a target on you, is conspicuous), to love oppressed peoples (going out of my way, taking on expense, being seen with possibly not lovely but beloved people), and to seek God (to pursue that which is beyond my understanding, to both rest in the knowledge that God is holy and to surrender to His work within me).

Spitballs. More spitballs.

I’m a dearly loved creation, given gifts of the Spirit and a calling in life (whether I’ve found it or not), and God is constantly refining me and making me new.

Is this tension coming through? There’s value in the way I am because of how God has made me. And even more value in living into my calling. Yet God is still working on me, still making me whole and complete and fixing what’s broken when I don’t live rightly.

I’ve heard people talk about salvation as lifelong, that God’s salvation is the recurring theme in our lives. That is never stops. I can say that I’m saved, but really, what I mean is that I’m constantly being saved.

Maybe this tension is a question of reliance, a matter of where I lean and where I put my confidence. If I put my confidence in my skills or abilities or character, I’ll find myself leaning on a balloon. It will eventually be unable to support my weight. If I put my confidence in knowing that God is shaping me, I’m leaning on Him, which means that I have to walk where He leads.

I think I’m trying to say that in Christ I have a different idea of my self, that thought there’s some comfort in the fit of His calling, the way He gives me strengths and calls me to use them, He’s also calling me to see myself as not my own but bought with a price. I have some ownership in the sense that I decide who I will follow, but I find fullness when I follow the one who made me and calls me.

This feels like a convoluted thought process, but I’m going to publish anyway. That way we’ll have something to come back to when the thoughts are more clear.


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