So here’s a weird thing I do: Sometimes when I’m driving by myself I’ll find a radio station I would never choose and crank it, just to get a feel for why people like it and what message it’s heralding. Gets me out of my bubble.
I do the same things with books sporadically, grabbing a nonfiction book at the library that is completely outside the Trish zone. The last two couldn’t have provided a more powerful contrast.
The first, by a massively successful TV writer, presented her worldview with great confidence. Here was a quote on motherhood :
“This is good, we’re told. It’s good how Mom diminishes and martyrs herself. The message is: mothers, you are such wonderful and good people because you make yourselves smaller, because you deny your own needs, because you toil tirelessly in the shadows and no one ever thanks or notices you… this all makes you AMAZING.
Yuck. What the *** kind of message is that?”
Now, granted, mothers should be thanked and loved and becoming a doormat is definitely not good, but the whole book mocked self-denial and humility in every form.
The other book was Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge about Mother Theresa, who diminished and denied herself, toiling tirelessly in the shadows of suffering and death. Of the girls she trains she says:
These girls wanted to give their best, because in our society we have to make a total surrender to God; this is the spirit of the community. They wanted to achieve this fulfillment in their own lives by giving all to God, giving up their position, their home, their future and dedicating all of it wholly to the poorest of the poor. They thought they couldn’t give enough to God who had given them this beautiful vocation of serving the poorest of the poor.
I don’t typically look to Mother Theresa for my wisdom, but I have a guess as to whose life philosophy will produce more fulfillment and joy.
God’s ways have always seemed upside-down to the culture–and to our own natures for that matter, but they are good, right, true, and beautiful. More than ever, we need to throw our arms around the sometimes surprising Word of God and trust it. Let’s take a quote from Jesus himself in Luke 9 and see where he stands on the issue:
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
It’s a good reminder. We don’t need to be afraid of losing ourselves in following Jesus. To shed more of me and get more of him… what a wonderful trade.