When it comes to self, it doesn’t matter if I focus on the self deprecation that makes others laugh or the self gratification that placates me. Both leave me empty in the long run and keep me from walking in God’s kingdom as I should. I twist and play with my hair and have for as long as I can remember. Mylah loves to play with my hair, and when I took her downstairs for her bath last night, she was delighted that my hair was down so she could run her little fingers through it. It’s even more satisfying when she twists it:)
When I found that playing with my hair was a form of self gratification, I was surprised and a little embarrassed. I knew it made me feel better, but I didn’t realize it was considered an activity similar to sucking one’s thumb. I still play with my hair, but I just don’t feel bad about it. I do take note if I start twisting because it means that something is on my mind or heart. I may just be thinking of the day before me, but I also may be hurting. That was the case when I went to bed last night.
It was an amazing day yesterday, and the warm sunshine after a week of horrific winds, water and snow was truly a gift from God. The girls and I played outside for a long time, and I also found time while they were napping to sit in the sun by the pool. Worship was wonderful last night, and the singing left my heart soaring. Mylah and Lilly were adorable in the tub as they took their little washcloths and wrapped up little toy fish and sang lullabies to them. I went to bed a very happy Gigi indeed:)
As I prayed, I started twisting my hair. I knew something on my heart that needed attention. God helped me find and face the root of my angst, and I relaxed and slept peacefully. The lesson God had for me in the hair twisting prayer was that much of our conversations are about me. It’s okay to go to God when I’m hurting, but it isn’t okay for me to be at the center of my prayers. I saw praying as the ultimate form of self gratification, and I was humbled by the lesson.
Dying to self is a painful process that leads to greater joy than any form of self gratification found on earth. Those three little concrete steps presented themselves as I left services last night, and I was taken aback when I looked down and saw the steps from my dream night before last. God amazes me when He teaches the obvious with love, and He did just that last night. The steps leading out of the church office were the steps in my dream, and they lead out of the building and into the world. I so need the filling and fellowship I get from the church body, but God gently reminded me that I need to take that filling and fellowship out into His world in a way that changes me and it.
I learned at an early age to use self deprecation to get laughs from those around me, and I still have to be mindful not to put myself down when I make mistakes or feel the need to apologize for the way I am. I am learning that who I am is who I am. God is teaching me to love myself, and Dr. Steibel reminded me that we need to love ourselves for God’s sake (Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin.) That was an amazing lesson during the prayer retreat that I play to remember. Self is an expression of who I am, but I have to make sure I don’t get caught up in gratifying or deprecating because that isn’t what God desires.
Praying is personal, and God loves to hear my heart. He, like all of us, doesn’t enjoy listening to a litany of self-loathing or a rehearsal of my plans and problems. He would rather our conversations be about Christ and how His Holy Spirit is working through me. He has a lot to add to that conversation if I will be still and let Him share His ideas with me:)
Whether it’s self gratification or deprecation, it still amounts to be self-centered. That keeps me from drawer nearer to God and to those in my path. Intercessory prayer is a beautiful antidote when I find myself getting too far into myself. Remembering who God is and who I am brings our conversations to a beautiful place of connectedness, and that feels better than anything I’ve ever felt:)