I often find myself frustrated in group settings like roundtable within the Fellows program. I'm frustrated not because they're something wrong with roundtable or the nine awesome fellows, but because I don't feel like I have anything to say or contribute to the group. It's shocking how rare it is that I realize that frustration arises from thinking about ME. How can I be noticed, how can I be admired for what I've done, how can I give people a reason to love me, how can I give people a reason to spend time with me. Me. Me. Me.
It's always easy to be obsessed with me. When I think about the 7th grade young men that I could have an influence on, it's easy to put the pressure on myself to be awesome. I reason that if I lead an uber (it's not just an app, look it up) successful life, that is the ultimate example. I reason that if people look at me and how well I do things, somehow that will point them to the God who makes a successful life possible.
I often end a difficult attempt at forging community with Christians with the thought that it's so much easier to get along with non believers. I have cast about the theory that Christians are more judgmental, therefore harder to love and be loved by. But maybe non believers are easier for me to get along with because they're equally obsessed with themselves. What else is there in a world without God? The only thing to know is yourself, the only thing that can be changed is yourself, and so what else would you talk about besides your self and what it has done?
So what is it about? Well if you take the perspective that life on this earth should be a glimpse of the renewed kingdom to come, I think a quote from one of our readings gives great insight:
Making sure people know how great I think I am, being a part of every joke, having MY life together.. none of that is my eternal destiny. My eternal hope and my hope on this earth is to be a part of an tremendous project on a vast scale that's all about God and his people. So rather than spending group time distracted by the fact that I'm not being glorified, or that Christians can be judgmental, why not be caught up in my eternal destiny?
Ironically I've said the word "me" and "I" over and over and talked mostly about about myself in this blog post. I want to devote this last paragraph to an update that's not about me or the things I've done or what exactly has happened to me here and there. Sadly it's hard to think of what to write that isn't about me or how things have affected me, so I'd like to write a few words about everybody else.
Ashley's the bomb. That could be enough said, but to me more specific she stays up with talking to any one of us (sometimes 2+ in succession) after late roundtable nights when she has a family waiting upstairs. Richie has a crazy heart for his youth group kids (2, no plus) that leads him to spend his free time with them every chance he gets. Sam packs an unbelievable amount of quiet wisdom into his less than six feet of height. Zach knows everybody and yet he takes the time to know us. Matty's bold about everything from the Spirit to the disc. Kenzie's full of life, dancing, stank face (while dancing, not saying her face stanks), and hand gestures. Everyone I've met who's met Gebbie loves her. Jessie's got a great way of articulating things while the rest of us babble and try to sound deep. Mariah's so easy to talk to that I feel like we lived the same life in a previous incarnation or something. And Carryl's our caring mother from another.... mother? Is that how you'd say it? But, seriously Carryl cares more than anyone I've seen and sometimes more than I can hope I ever will.
And as I type these last lines I'm realizing, they're the best part of Raleigh fellows, not another something that happened to me. Because, it's not about me.
- Stephen Sumrall (it would have been really poetic to leave my name out, but I feel like that wouldn't fly)