Wednesday, September 15, 2004

You Are Not Your Blessing

There's a part in the movie Fight Club where Tyler Durden tells Narrator that "You are not your job, you're not how much money you have in the bank, you're not the car you drive, you're not the contents of your wallet, you're not your [expletive] khakis." Among the many good tidbits in the film, this is one which struck me lately. At church this past Sunday, we were talking about blessings, and it occurred to me that we often define ourselves by them.

To varying extents, we get defensively jealous about the things we have. For some people, no matter how bad the place was in which they grew up, it'll always be "home" for them, and you'd best not diss it. In a similar matter, conservative Episcopalians will mock the heck out of our church, but when other people do so, then it becomes offensive. My parents like to tell the story of one of the times when we moved, when one of my sisters was very young and still in diapers. The boxers had come in that day and packed everything up, including all of her toys (well, other than one or two my parents had packed in their travel bags). My sister watched all our furniture, rugs, her toys, and everything disappear. Not long afterwards, she went to the bathroom, and one of my parents went to change her. When they tried to take off her diaper, she started crying and held on to it for everything she was worth, at it was the only thing she seemed to have left. It was a messed diaper, but it was what she had, and she was darn well keeping it. This is nothing new; check out Judges 18:24, when the idols Micah (not the prophet) has made for himself are stolen, and he begs for them back even though they obviously can't even protect themselves, let alone him.

Similarly, when something which forms a major part of our life is criticized, we take it personally. If someone told you that your job wasn't important, you'd be offended. It's annoying when my horn playing or dancing is mocked. When people criticize my truck, I get upset. The problem is that my horn playing, dancing, truck, etc. don't define who I am. People may have a legitimate point that their dancing is far superior to mine, or that their truck is much more powerful. However, the thing to remember is that even in the case of skills that I've learned, I wouldn't have them if I hadn't been placed in certain situations by factors beyond my control. And because these things were given to me by God, sacrificing them should not harm me personally.

(more later; I have a headache...)

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