My wife is eminently practical, which comes in handy if you’re prone to hanging out in the realm of the abstract, as I am. One of her great merits is her uncanny knack for getting to the point, usually while I’m taking the long way around. If it doesn’t work, she doesn’t want it. If it doesn’t produce, what’s the use? That is a good mindset to bring to bear on this matter of the crucified life. Dying to self is no more mystical than shaving in the morning. The positive implications are endless.
Take, for example, the simple statement from the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:4, “Look not only to your own interests… Consider others better than yourselves.” I can barely pull myself from survival mode long enough to acknowledge someone else, much less prefer their interests to my own. And when I attempt to do so, my words ring tinny and hollow, and even a bat could see that I’m saying things disconnected from my heart. Is St. Paul encouraging us to paint the clown’s face and pantomime love? Are we to fake it with the hope that we’ll eventually deceive ourselves into accepting our pasty makeup as our real face? I’m convinced the aged apostle has something much more authentic in mind. He does not encourage low self-esteem, but no-self-esteem. When I begin to recognize and genuinely believe that what others need and want is as important as my own needs and wants, they become more important than my own and I have traveled a long way down the road of actually losing sight of myself.