Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's Nothing Personal

A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with a friend about the way I handle some of the injustices I see in the world around me.

He pointed out that I always take it personally, I always make it about my own issues with life. I believe this a form of what many psychologists would call transference.

It permeates so many of my attitudes in both personal encounters and international politics. It is both a strength and a weakness. It is the former because it reflects empathy, which I believe lies at the heart of loving your neighbour as yourself. However it is also a weakness because if left unchecked, it puts you at the centre of things... which isn't healthy. It also leaves me exposed to attack.

Many years ago, my parents were once told by my art teacher, that I had a very powerful imagination... but that I had a tendency to act without focus, I let my raw emotions and imagination control what I put down on paper. It was a strength because I conveyed powerful themes, it was a weakness because there was so much going on, so many ideas flowing onto the empty paper in front of me; that it was hard to understand the message that was at the heart of my work.

Sometimes more is less and less is more.

It's one thing to be passionate, it's quite another to be reckless and utterly governed by your emotions... and when I see injustices in other people's lives, I am often governed by my emotions.

Conversely when it comes to acting on behalf of myself, I find myself confined by procrastination and inaction.

I need to find balance and refinement.

In my favourite sequence from the film Highlander, Connor (Christopher Lambert) is being taught by Ramirez (Sean Connery). He is taught among many things, that if he overextends his thrust, he becomes off balance and vulnerable. This is exactly what happens with me. when I become emotionally attached to a topic. I throw my weight so readily into the battle, that I leave myself wide open. Sure I score a few mighty blows against what I'm facing... but I'm clumsy and I take a heck of a beating in response.

Ramirez teaches Connor that he must learn to harness his power.

This is something I need to do also.... under God's direction.

I can't go on being all or nothing. I can't just move from procrastination to nuclear assault and back again. I need to be passionate but measured.

Roger Morris once advised me that if I was not careful, I ran the risk of living my life defined by others... and he's right. I need to take on board what my friend said about taking things personally... but I must not assume I am completely wrong... because I am not my friend... I am me. My role and purpose in life is not identical to his. I must not allow myself to be made in the image of others. God has a shape in mind for the man I am to become and it's not the shape of any one person I know.

After all, "love your neighbour as yourself" is the SECOND greatest commandment. The FIRST is to "love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength". We need to make sure that God is at the centre and not ourselves, or anyone else.

Jesus had the complete human emotional experience... but never once did any one of those emotions overrule the most important emotion of all... love for the Father.

I intend to touch more on the subject of being defined by others"in the near future. For now though I want to leave you with this thought:

Listen to your friends, and heed their advice, but don't make pleasing them the heart of what you do. Don't lose sight of who and what God called you to be. You can serve your friends and yourself better by making sure God remains at the centre of things. I'm not talking religion here, I'm not talking about merely obeying what your vicar or pastor says... I'm not talking about surrendering your emotions to doctrine like a robot.I'm talking about taking your emotions and thoughts to God and engaging with him on these things. A relationship with God is not about rejecting your emotions and passions... it's about embracing them in the context of his will.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, kudos for candour there Nick!

    I think that the key can also be found in the greatest commandments! love your neigbour as yourself -- not more or less than, but as. Remember that God loves you enough that he was willing to send Jesus to die for your - so you should value yourself, and that means creating some kind of safe place in your own heart and mind where God can get on with the business of loving, changing, moulding and using you. Jesus sets the example when he goes away by himself to pray, though you can be certain that there were plenty of folk he could have healed, loved, touched, forgiven, blessed or whatever at that time, he went away to be with His Father, to pray, to be apart. Likewise he didn't try to change everything in the world at once, but changed the world through sharing God's love in every encounter.

    Go with God, Nick, ol blog buddy!


The ideas and thoughts represented in this page's plain text are unless otherwise stated reserved for the author. Please feel free to copy anything that inspires you, but provide a link to the original author when doing so.
Share your links easily.