Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. - 1 Peter 2:4
A popular devotional book begins, "It's not about you." The first time I read that sentence I nearly threw the book across the room. Who is this Rick Warren guy to say such a thing?? Doesn't he know that life is, has always been, and will forever be about me?? The nerve of some people...
Seriously, I don't think we ever really outgrow our child-size egocentricity; that view that the world revolves around us, that everything that happens to us is somehow because of us. That it happens because of what we did, or didn't do, what we said or didn't say, or because we were good, or because we are bad. It's always about us. About me.
If I'm successful, it's because I worked hard. If I'm not, its because I'm lazy; regardless of the fact that I've put in the same amount of effort into each endeavor. If I'm healthy, it's because of my healthy choices in life. If I get sick, it's because I did something wrong, or, more insidiously, because I am inherently bad, or because God is mad at me or doesn't love me as much as that healthy person over there.
When I was laid off it was very hard to not take it personally, even though I had long before reconciled that I was the expendable one in our little department. My job was superfluous; "value add" to the rest of the team, but definitely nonessential. Since I first got the job I knew that I was the most expendable, and would be the first to go in a downsizing. Still, it stung like hell and felt incredibly personal; like it was all about me, not about what was best for the department in light of the circumstances. It was very difficult in that moment (and even since) to remember that most of what happens in life, most decisions people make, have little-to-nothing to do with me.
Most of my life I have railed against the notion that what God allows to happen (or does to me, depending on my mood at the moment) is not about me. So convinced am I that it is about me, that the first thoughts in my head whenever anything befalls me are, why is this happening to me?? and What did I do this time??
As a child I lacked the ability to think in the abstract, to reason out that there may be motives and issues and circumstances I cannot see. Everything is concrete and simple to a child; what they can see in front of them at the time is all that exists. Consequently, we all as children internalize everything that happens as somehow being about us and because of us.
As an adult I have the ability to think in the abstract, but tend to lack the will to look beyond the concrete of me into the shadows of the mysterious and invisible.
Tonight, however, I take comfort in complexity and transcendence. I'm feeling pretty battered, unwanted, undesirable, disposable. Rejection letters, polite though they may be, still leave scars, even when they come from strangers at nebulous HR offices. When they come from mentors.... whew! That is even more painful.
But if it's true, if it's not about me, if all that's going on in my life right now has its roots, causes, and reasons in abstract motives, issues and circumstances that have little-to-nothing to do with me -- save their impact on my life -- well then maybe I don't have to take all this so personally. Even if it is ten or even twenty percent about me, that still leaves eighty to ninety percent -- a clear majority -- that's not about me. It's about someone else. That suddenly feels so incredibly freeing to me now.
It says that I'm only one piece in a huge puzzle, one thread in a vast tapestry that my Papa is weaving. I don't have to make sense all by myself. I don't have to complete the picture all on my own. I don't have to be the center of all the universe's activity, or the blame of all the chaos. Whatever happens isn't because of me, or about me, and may not even be for me.
I'm not the Source or Purpose of Life. Therefore, I don't bear the weight of the whole thing; I'm just one stone within it.
Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. The workmen took one look and threw it out; God set it in the place of honor. Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you'll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God. - 1 Peter 2:4-8 (The Message)