An Anti-self-help Self-help Series ~ Believing You Can Fly (I mean, accomplish & serve)
First let me firmly establish; I do not know what I'm talking about. I am sharing my own thoughts here, giving you my own interpretation of things, setting forth the way things seem to me. I understand there are people who suffer from genuine chemical imbalances or have experienced pain that requires professional assistance to overcome - I am not asserting that I have answers here and that I should be listened to. I am asserting only this; I am nearing 60, I have been with my wife for over 40 years, we have raised 6 children - so, this is what I do know; I know myself, I love my wife, and we have 6 impressive children who like us very much . . . this gives me no credential to offer any manner of counsel to those plagued by chemical imbalances or have experienced actual psychological trauma - but it does, I believe, suggest I might share some ideas that might direct or encourage some folks to a more favorable course. You only get one life, and you're in it right now, and it's moving along . . . don't let it all carry you down a troubled course to an unhappy end - resolve to seize your life and direct it's course and, if not actively enjoy every step, learn from every step.
. . . To Be Happy And Fulfilled
Our contemporary American culture has told us that our ambition is to be happy and fulfilled, and then has removed all the great leather-bound works of previous generations from a well built, sturdy and useful shelf, told us that we each need to concoct our own private philosophy of life, and now sells us the 'self-help' paperbacks to fill that shelf so as to accomplish the happiness and fulfillment set before us as our proper aspiration. The evidence that this is indeed our circumstance is all around us - look at Oprah Winfrey and "American Idol" as examples.
Oprah Winfrey is regularly referred to as the most powerful woman in the country and the most influential person today, etc - and for what? Years ago Oprah Winfrey acted, for the first time, in the movie "The Color Purple" and was nominated for an Academy Award - but her massive acclaim comes from her ongoing 'change your life' message. Similarly, look at contestant after contestant on "American Idol"; when interviewed, for a singing competition, contestants rarely talk about singing, about melody and phrasing, etc - they simply announce that they want to be famous, and that if American could just get to know them America would adore them.
Actual accomplishment, like acting well or singing beautifully or fixing the plumbing or being kind to neighbors, etc, no longer informs our sense of ourselves - now it's all how you apply pop-culture psychological gobbledygook inside your own head to define your self-worth. Whereas you used to have underprivileged inner-city kids sitting upright in class responding 'yes ma'am' & 'no ma'am', now you have underprivileged inner-city kids killing each other because they were 'disrespected' or need another's name-brand sneakers to feel fulfilled. It's all form and no substance . . . our culture has turned us in on ourselves for us to define our 'self', not through demonstrable and so observable deeds, but through self-aggrandizing psychological catch phrases. The records that now move us are no longer songs about our love for a girlfriend or boyfriend - now our music is all about 'I believe in me', 'I know I can fly', 'I'm so friggin' special', etc.
Now, I understand we all need praise and encouragement, we all need to know we are loved and accepted for who we are - but why do so many not get that? Might it, in some instances, be that mom & dad are so busy seeking their own interests, making sure they are properly 'respected' and nothing hinders them from believing in themselves, are too many parents signing their own song of 'I believe I can fly' and not singing 'my child has my heart'? Does each generation require more and more public uplifting, 'don't you think it would be nice . . ?' instead of 'don't do that again' and awards for showing-up, etc, because each previous generation was trained to give themselves all their attention? In our public effort to make sure everyone feels special we are creating generation after generation of people striving to feel special because they don't feel special - and they don't feel special because they were not privately, intimately, made to feel special by mom & dad because mom & dad were trying to make themselves feel special . . . not by being a good mom or dad and raising kids who felt loved and accepted, but by internal self-definition. 'Special', not by accomplishment but by internal self-promotion.
I think it healthy to feel good about yourself, to feel special, to own a proper sense of self-worth, by actually doing the work of a good parent, a good employee, a good neighbor, a good friend, etc. If we move our attention from trying to convince ourselves that we're special and deserving of respect and acceptance, etc, toward instead giving our attention to encouraging others, to helping others, to serving others, etc, then perhaps those 'others' will make us feel accepted, respected, and even special. Your true 'self' is not defined by how good you are at internally applying pop-culture psychological catchphrases to yourself - your true self is defined by accomplishment, by what you do, by how you treat others.
Stop singing to yourself that you believe in you and start singing to the one you love that you're going to delight to be with them on the picnic you're planning for tomorrow - not because you like picnics and are trying to make yourself happy, but because you know they like picnics and you're trying to make them happy. We don't merit esteem, even self-esteem, simply by existing nor by merely persuading ourselves that we are special - we merit esteem, even self-esteem, by being esteemable, by doing things worthy of esteem. Don't merely assert that you deserve respect - do those things that earn you respect. Don't merely announce that you're good - be good.
An Anti-self-help Self-help Series ~
- Regular, Normal Christianity
I believe many folks are turned off, not by authentic Christianity, but by the too often ugly, discordant, and silly religion some have concocted and falsely labeled "Christianity"
- The Christian & Private Study - A 'How To' Guide
You don't have to be a scholar to study Scripture effectively and you don't have to be intimidated because of unfamiliar terms and references - there are essential things you can know and aids to use that will make your own private study fruitful.