Dried Grass and Crumpled Flowers

When God knit this person together, He did so with an optimism of the best sort for everyone else and a pessimism of the worst sort for herself. If there is good to see in others, I will see it, and if there is anything out of place in me, I will caricature it until it is as ugly to the rest of the world as it is to myself. Others call this narcissism. I call it human-nature. We’re all plagued with an evil eye toward ourselves—even if our greatest flaw is thinking the best of ourselves and the worst of others. Thinking the best of ourselves comes laden with baggage of the self-sufficient, and who needs sufficiency of self if we have not been failed by all others because of our inability to keep them satisfied? “I don’t need nobody else, just me,” is the blight of men everywhere since the enemy fell from legions of angels whose sole concern was Other Than, if only because nobody else could satisfy self like self.

There are a myriad of ways out of this navel gazing—and trust me, I’ve tried them all—but the only one that works is putting two eyes toward the cross and centering them there.

Jesus did it for the joy set before Him, though, and we do a disservice if we do anything motivated by anything other than the same joy. Too often we talk about “bearing the cross” and “picking up our cross,” and I don’t want to mislead you, making you think anything about the Christian life is anything less than a cross. It isn’t. But it is so much more than the cross—and therein lies the joy set before us.

The narcissism that keeps us desperate for the approval of man, the compliments of others, and the affirmation of the achieved, is desperately flawed in that it sets its joy on something less than eternal.

So press on, friends, for the joy set before you. Endure the cross of your ugliest aspects and the gross imperfections of others—this world is a vapor and what lasts is so much more. Treasure, too, the beauty found in others and in yourself, but do it with an eye toward the eternal where the only One we’ll be making much of is Christ.