______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

The Doctor, Jesus, & Me August 4, 2010

There are some things I really don’t like about myself.
One of those things is the time I waste on worry.
I worry a lot. Yes, yes, I know, “Don’t worry about anything. Pray about everything…” (Philippians 4:6)
I’m 55, and still learning that lesson.

One thing I worry about a lot is heated disagreements that might happen. These are often work related. Sometimes not.

Many times I’ve taken a 2 minute possible argument, and played it over and over in my mind. Sometimes for hours. Sometimes all night in bed. More often than not, these future confrontations never happen. Hey, at least I’m prepared…right?

Anyway, that’s one of the things I don’t like about myself. There are others. But (and this was quite a step forward for me) I realized a number of years ago that there are some things I do like about myself. I won’t list them here. I’ve found they are far too numerous to mention. I am, after all, pretty cool. 🙂

The point here is not what I specifically like about myself. The point is, well…

Back when my wife and I decided to get marriage counseling, and I needed personal counseling, we connected with the Rev. Dr. Thomas L. Sass. I don’t know how often this happens, but the counselor, and the counselees, became friends, and, on occasion, socialize together.
Now, the good Doctor and I, though friends, disagree often. That’s OK. I have enough grace to allow him to be wrong. Yes, very big of me, I know.

Some of his advice and teachings have long left my memory. Some I remember, and no longer, personally, find applicable. Some I may now disagree with. However, meeting with this man, and receiving his counsel, was truly a life-changing experience. It was, in many ways, the start of a new journey which has led me to where I am today. (Dr. Sass may or may not wish to take any credit for that.)

His insights and teachings were often theological, and simultaneously psychological. Some were very “deep.” Oddly, (or maybe not), one of the things that impacted me the most, seems now rather simple.
He usually gave “assignments” to be completed between each session. Early on, after a lengthy discussion, he gave me the following:

“This week, I want you to simply enjoy being you.”

I really can’t express the extent of the impact that had on me.

Growing up, we all get a lot of input that shapes how we see ourselves. Much of that input, for many of us, is negative. All too often, we start believing it. All too often, we give the same negative input to others. In a world of “Compare, Compete, and Control,” it is quite necessary to make sure others know that they are “no better than we are.” (Of course, religion and legalizm help us kick it up a notch, to where We are indeed, better than they are!)

Ultimately, “they” are no better than us, and we, no better than they. When this truth is released from the shackles of self-preservation, it can bring freedom instead of bondage. We can quit the whole “compare/compete/control” business, and start to love others without an agenda. Without a need to “change” them. Without a need to convert them. Without, dare I say, a need to “evangelize” them. We are now free to express the love of Jesus to them. We are, also, finally….Finally free…to love ourselves; to accept ourselves, as they say, “warts and all.”

This doesn’t mean we don’t change. Change is inherent with growth. (This includes [big revelation] our changing view and understanding of God.)
But, it is not our job to change each other. It’s our job to love each other. Jesus taught us to love others as ourselves. (Mk. 12:31, Mat. 19:19) This is why learning to be ourselves, and to be OK with that, even with our “shortcomings,” is an essential part of life. It is an essential part of living in grace.

As I said earlier, Mr. Sass and I may disagree. We may disagree now more than we used to. But too many people are ALL about what they disagree on. I think, just maybe, we should focus a little more on what we DO agree on.

So, in light of all the above, I have an assignment for you.
“This week, I want you to simply enjoy being you.”

And to Tom: “Thank you, and God bless you.”

— df


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