I was in a coffee shop this past December, 2012, and the person behind the register said to me, " 2012 was so good that I am afraid that 2013 will be worse." She was afraid of her future; afraid that her good fortune in life would fade. So I wondered, how much did she really enjoy 2012. I wondered if she was always looking over her shoulder, waiting for something bad to happen, waiting for the laughter to stop, waiting for the joy to turn to dread.
Since the downturn of the economy in 2008, I have met and talked with a lot of people who live this way. They cannot fully enjoy their new job because they fear they will lose it. They cannot enjoy the stock market gains for worrying about the next market downturn.
While it is advisable to plan and prepare and anticipate, we should not let our fears define who we are. If we do, then we will become our fears.
One of my favorite movies is Lonesome Dove and my favorite character in that movie is Gus, played by Robert Duvall. Gus had a sign made for the ranch which was supposed to welcome visitors. But the sign focused on what the ranch was not rather than any of its welcoming attributes. The most famous declaration on the sign stated, "We don't rent pigs." When Gus' ranching partner, Captain Call, questioned why anyone in his right mind would want to rent a pig, Gus replied that that was just the point. He did not want the kind of person who would rent a pig visiting his ranch.
Too often we define ourselves in the negative. We think, " I am a person who does not do..." " I am a person who does not believe..." "I am a person who does not have..." In order for us to develop spiritually and to grow in our relationship with God, we have to learn how to define ourselves in the positive.
When Moses asked God's name, God replied, "I am that I am." Spiritual people are people who are rather than are not. Moses defined himself as a person who could not answer God's call, but at God's insistence he relented. When he embraced the fact that he was a child of God, he became the person that God knew him to be.
Spiritual people are always in the process of becoming and God is found in the affirmation of this becoming. At some point, we can say that "I am God's creation." " I am a person whose life has meaning and purpose." And when we see others in this light- seeing them as who they are rather than who they are not- it changes our world view and makes loving others as we love ourselves a real possibility; even the people who rents pigs.
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