” He must increase, but I must decrease.”
I’m 49. Sometimes by accident I tell people I’m 50. Middle age is coming fast, has in fact caught me. And I am feeling not so young. But now and again I see a picture of myself that looks good to me and I get excited and think “Alright, I don’t look bad for my age.” You wouldn’t believe how long I feel happy because of one good picture – days, weeks even. My facebook profile picture has remained the same for four months because I can’t let the picture go.
All vanity. Pure and simple.
Why do I care so much how I look?
I have always cared too much about how I look. Vain.
And the problem with vanity is how much it can control us. I once said jokingly to a friend in bible study “If I thought about Jesus as much as I think about myself, wouldn’t that be amazing?” But I wasn’t really joking. It would be amazing if I could think about myself less and let God in more often.
In prayer this morning I was praying about God’s love and my own vanity I heard it loud and clear:
“Helen, I love you because I made you.”
I flashed back to one of my favorite Max Lucado children’s book called You Are Special. The book is about wemmicks, puppets made by Eli the woodcarver. The wemmicks are obsessed with each other’s approval, giving each other gold stars or gray dots. But when the wemmicks get really down they can always go see Eli, who made them.
I cried every time I read that book to my children. I often feel like a have a gray dot on my forehead. Then for a little while I swing back to a gold star and feel elated. Whose approval and love am I looking for anyway? The world’s or His?
I am humbled by God’s love. I’ts hard to believe that he can number the hairs on the head of every human being. But He can. When I am focused on God, I do feel His love. I feel it real and overwhelming. I just have to stay tuned in to His frequency and shut out the radio waves of the busy, self-obsessed world in which we live. And when I allow myself to feel loved by God you know what happens? I stop thinking about myself as much. Then I can reach out and touch the world on God’s terms not mine.
I must decrease that He can increase.
One way is by being thankful. Thankfulness leads out of ourselves and into the heart of God – all goodness. Each time during the day that I stop to acknowledge God and say thank you, I break down the barrier of me and break into the world of God. Today I am thankful for God’s love and for His Presence in our lives. I am thankful for the many ways He shows Himself to us. Sunshine in a beautiful Fall sky. A dog’s wagging tail. A child’s smile. A teen’s faith revealed in his playlist of moving songs about Jesus. A husband’s loving hug at the end of a long day. The eucharist.
I am thankful for Mass where I can break bread with the Lord and receive Him into by body. The ultimate communion with God here on earth. Thank you Jesus for the gift of yourself in Mass. Thank you for the grace that we receive when we receive you. I love you. Amen.