I have learned the freedom of forgetting myself.
I have watched men and women over the years who were overly
self-conscious. What a small way to live. Such people rarely seem to get beyond themselves.
- Someone tells a story and the listener responds by saying, "Oh that’s nothing, you should have seen what happened to me."
- A person just got back from vacation. Several friends are eager to hear about their friend’s trip. During the conversation, the friends ask various questions about the trip. One person, however, immediately attempts to change the topic of the conversation from the friend’s vacation to HIS own vacation.
- Another person is in a meeting and immediately begins to justify her existence by reminding everyone of all she is doing.
What a limited and narrow way to live. Something is wrong when I feel threatened by the attention that another might receive. Also, when I am overly concerned with me and what people think of me, my world shrinks.
On the other hand, I have observed friends who seem to forget
themselves. These people don’t feel compelled to remind others of their accomplishments, their gifts, and their knowledge. They don’t seem threatened by the attention that another is receiving. They don’t seem defensive and self-preoccupied. Rather, they simply desire to be fully present with other human beings.
A number of years ago, I was to teach a class at the Pepperdine Lectures. I flew into LAX and was picked up by a Pepperdine van that shuttled the various speakers from the airport to the campus. This particular van picked up about six people from different places at the airport. On this van were several preachers including one very high profile and visible person who had written a number of books. At the last stop at the airport, the van picked up a Bible professor from a Christian college. This professor ended up sitting by the high profile minister/author. They introduced themselves to one another. I recall that the Bible professor had never heard this man’s name and was not at all familiar with any of his books.
I remember thinking, "You have never even heard of the guy?" But what I especially remember was the graciousness the minister/author showed toward the Bible professor. He continued to be engaged in conversation with the man. There seemed to be no desire, on his part, to display his credentials. He did not seem to wear his ego on his sleeve. I was impressed.
No, I don’t always forget myself. Sometimes, I am entirely too self-conscious. I have learned, however, that there is great freedom in forgetting myself. When I do so, I am free to be who I am. I don’t have to be preoccupied with another’s response, opinion, or thoughts about me.
Does this resonate with you? When do you tend to be overly self-conscious? What have you learned about forgetting yourself?