I’m Made To Be A Significant Person Who Really Matters
We met at Starbucks and he beckoned me to join him at his table. I was glad to do so since we were both new on campus and it was good to have a new friend. We chatted for a bit until two other Koreans came across to speak to him. They ignored me and talked to each other in Korean. For a while I smiled and looked across the room. They kept talking. I fiddled with my coffee. My eyes gradually fell down until I was gazing at the table, seeing nothing in particular. Still they talked to each other in Korean and ignored me. I wanted to get up and run and I should have done that. Instead I sat and felt embarrassed, left out and worthless. I knew I didn’t matter to them, not the least bit.
That’s when I decided that my new friend could never really be my friend. I realized that my need for a friend had lulled me into a delusion. I got up and walked outside. They didn’t notice. The next time I saw him I acted cool and indifferent, leaving him in the middle of his sentence to talk to someone else instead.
This might seem like an over-reaction but the reality is that at some level, we all demand to be treated as someone significant and when the opposite happens it generates frustration, anger and resentment. This is the birthplace of racialism. This is the beginning of stereotyping. When we reach out to someone different from ourselves and receive rejection we add an entry to our “never again” list and begin the slippery slope of justifying that entry with reasons that sound more rational than saying, “They ignored me and their rudeness made me white-hot with anger and disappointment.”
Scenes like the one above are repeated all too often in our lives. It’s interesting to probe what drives this sort of reaction and Dallas Willard throws insight on it in his book, “The Divine Conspiracy.” Check out a bit of what he says.
“The obviously well-kept secret of the “ordinary” is that it is made to be a receptacle of the divine, a place where the life of God flows. But the divine is not pushy. As Huston Smith remarks, “Just as science has found the power of the sun locked in the atom, so religion proclaims the glory of the eternal to be reflected in the simplest elements of time: a leaf, a door, an unturned stone.” It is, of course, reflected as well in complicated entities such as galaxies, music, mathematics, and persons.
Now considered apart from its creator – which was never intended – the “ordinary” truly is so ordinary and commonplace that it is of little interest or value. No atom by itself radiates solar power. In its own right everything is always just “another one of those.” The human being screams against this from every pore. To be just “another one of those” is deadening agony for us. Indeed, it actually drives some people to their death. It was never God’s intention for anyone.
This is why everyone, from the smallest child to the oldest adult, naturally wants in some way to be extraordinary, outstanding, making a unique contribution or, if all else fails, wants to be thought so – if only for a brief time.
The drive to significance that first appears as a vital need in the tiny child, and later as its clamorous desire for attention, is not egotism. Egotistical individuals see everything through themselves. They are always the dominant figures in their own field of vision.
Egotism is pathological self-obsession, a reaction to anxiety about whether one really does count. It is a form of acute self-consciousness and can be prevented and healed only by the experience of being adequately loved. It is, indeed, a desperate response to frustration of the need we all have to count for something and be held to be irreplaceable, without price.
Unlike egotism, the drive to significance is a simple extension of the creative impulse of God that gave us being. It is not filtered through self-consciousness any more than our lunge to catch a package falling from someone’s hand. It is outwardly directed to the good to be done. We were built to count, as water is made to run downhill. We are placed in a specific context to count in ways no one else does. That is our destiny.
Our hunger for significance is a signal of who we are and why we are here, and it also is the basis of humanity’s enduring response to Jesus. For he always takes individual human beings as seriously as their shredded dignity demands, and he has the resources to carry through with his highest estimate of them.”
You can find a review of this book on Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God here.
This is a book that is well worth reading and re-reading. It is easy to read yet presents extraordinary insights into the plan and purposes of God. It’s in the “must read” category!
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Posted on April 1, 2012, in Active faith, Self-awareness and tagged Dallas Willard, personal significance, racialism, rejection, relationship building, Resentment, self-worth, Starbucks, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.