Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Leggo My Ego!

Have you ever been humbled? Oh, I don’t mean in a soft gentle manner, like having someone treat you with great respect, or having a group of people do something extraordinarily wonderful for you. I mean in a kick in the pants way! I mean in such a way as to knock you off your own pedestal!

When I was in Junior High, there was a boy who was very popular named Greg. He had a girlfriend, and she was popular as well. They were the “cool” kids – the ones everyone wanted to be around. They wore the latest fad clothing, had the cool haircuts, the cool parents, the cool house…you know…they were…well…”groovy”.

I wasn’t one of those types of kids. I was the one who was a bit shy, awkward, clumsy, and very self-conscious. I was the one who was always a year or so behind the trends in fashion due to the hand-me-downs I wore. My parents were Christians, which wasn’t at all cool at the time. I lived on a farm, so my shoes often had dust on them, and I was a bit disheveled from the long bus ride every day. I did have friends, and I stuck very close to my small group of confidants.

Much to my amazement one day I found out that Greg had broken up with his girlfriend, and was going to “ask me out”. Now, this was junior high, and when a guy “asked you out” you didn’t really go anywhere. You were just “together”. And that didn’t mean you were really together, it just meant you were a “pair”. But not really a “pair” because you didn’t hang together too much for fear of being ridiculed and teased for having a friend of the opposite sex. Now that I think about it, I’m not so sure what “going out” really meant! But – it was a good thing!

Greg – THE GREG – liked me! Oh, now that gave me something to be proud about. I was in gym class sitting on the bleachers, which were the old-fashioned wooden kind, anchored in a concrete floor. Greg was sitting behind me and I was as nervous as a mouse in a cat’s house! Would he ask me while we were in gym? Would he wait to ask me in 5th period? Would he walk me to the bus? Oh! My little blonde head was just spinning!

My girlfriends suddenly became a larger group of girls, and everyone wanted to be sitting right beside me. It was a bidding war for the seat to the left and right of me. Greg might come over and talk to me, and if he did, of course they wanted to be there! All my giggly girlfriends were saying, “you’re so lucky”, “I wish I were you” and showering me in compliments. I have to say it felt good. In fact, it was an excellent time. To make myself perfectly clear, this was a very good day! My hair looked great, my clothes were still in style, and my eye shadow - electric blue - thick coat - was not creased!

The gym class activity for the day I don’t remember. What I do remember was the gym instructor calling our names to have us come from the bleachers down into groups. I was listening intently for my name. But just as she called it, she called the girl in front of me. To this day I don’t know how it happened, but as she began to rise from her seat, my left leg was going down to the bleacher beside her, and well, I ended up riding her shoulders as she stood up. That’s right. My left leg on her left shoulder…my right leg on her right shoulder.

Was I embarrassed you ask? What do you think! I had just gone from being the gym class queen to the gym class jester! Greg? Oh yeah, he was watching. He couldn’t have missed it. I was only sitting a few bleachers in front of him.

If there had been a rock lying on that gym floor, I’d have crawled under it! If there had been a tree, I’d have hid behind it! If there had been a crowd, I’d have gotten lost in it! But wouldn’t you know it…we were some of the first to be called.

Humbling experiences have a way of sticking with you. That happened over 30 years ago, and still I remember it as if it were yesterday. They stick with us because they hurt a part of us that lies very deep in our hearts…our ego. It is the center of our self-love. An ego by itself is not bad, but when you let that portion of your heart swell and grow too big, it can crowd out the love you should have for others. When you love yourself too much, you can become selfish, judgmental, and arrogant.

This kind of attitude is the exact opposite of what Jesus wants from us! In John 13:34 we read as Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you”. Jesus loved us unconditionally, without concern for himself. He gave us all that he had, right down to giving us his life as he hung upon the cross. Even today, as He sits beside our Father God in Heaven, He still shows His love by interceding for us in prayer.

Yet so often we let our egos grow to the point we won’t give each other the time of day. We ignore the waiter as he fills our glass. We forget to thank the young man who dries our window at the car wash. We complain about our fast food when it’s wrong, but never say “thank you” when the order is delivered without flaws. We get wrapped up in our own little world to the point that we don’t even want to be interrupted by our own children.

Self, take a seat! It’s time to let someone else have the limelight of our life.

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