Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Losing Yourself to Find Yourself

My middle school, high school AND college years were fraught with a myriad of identity crises. Throughout those years, I have filed myself under terms like "skateboarder," "headbanger," "comic book guy," "artist," and "obsessive compulsive, anxiety driven action figure collector."

In my Junior and Senior years of highschool, I was obsessed with listening to gangster rap and tried with all my might to have a way-cool bumping sound system in my car. Something always went wrong with it and it never happened. Likely for my own good.

Since my conversion 10 years ago, I've had an internal struggle balancing the loves of my past with the "new life." I tend to veer toward insane extremes, so on multiple occasions I'd do something crazy like shaving my long hair off, throwing away a tub of Spawn action figures, or wearing a cheesey "Jesus" t-shirt to my college figure drawing class where we'd draw naked ladies. I thought these works would "impress" the God who loves me.

In all my efforts, I missed a central point. In the Christian life, I no longer have to struggle for acceptance, forge my identity, or earn God's favor. The best and most productive thing I could do for "me," is forget about "me" altogether.

Since noone says it better than C.S. Lewis. Let me quote him from the last page of Mere Christianity:

"...there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away "blindly" so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality:but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self (which is Christ's and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. it will come when you're looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about the sort of impression you are making. even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up your self, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever really be yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.

Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find him, and with Him everything else thrown in."

Friday, June 09, 2006

I Am Uncle Rico

I turned 30 this year and all the glorious symbols that marked my youth are quickly fading; my long hair, my skateboarding skills, my favorite punk albums. The years after these things are becoming more numerous than the years before them.

I recently thought about taking up skateboarding again, but falling is no longer "glorious" and paying my own medical bills isn't fun either. For the past year, I've had the strong urge to grow my hair long again....but I work for an insurance company, and I'm not sure how I could get away with that.

It's funny, I have gained a little wisdom in my latter years, and I realize now that alot of the things that I used to do that I thought were cool, and that I was sure the ladies thought were cool, were really and blushingly dorky and lame.

I think this is why I love the Uncle Rico character from Napolean Dynamite so much. Whether you were a jock, a skateboarder, or a theater guy in highschool, there's a little Uncle Rico in all of us I'm afraid.

Here's to Uncle Rico...