The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness:The Path to True Christian Joy, by Tim Keller, is a small little book that reorients the soul. I've been personally struggling with the writing life--the public writing life--because it feeds into a dark side of me. All the self-promotion! All the self-focus! How can I escape it? When I'm admired, it feels wrong. But I also find myself sad and jealous when I hear about the publishing successes of others. It feels like a terrible sickness in my soul either way.
This book provided a great answer. Keller talks about coming to the point where you stop thinking about yourself (successes or failures). You do things out of love because you're so secure and accepted in Christ. You aren't trying to prove you're special.
Keller writes, "Wouldn't you like to be the skater who wins the silver, and yet is thrilled about those three triple jumps that the gold medal winner did? To love it the way you love a sunrise? Just to love the fact that it was done? For it not to matter whether it was their success or your success. Not to care if they did it or you did it. You are as happy that they did it as if you had done it yourself--because you are just so happy to see it."
He further explains that when folks live in the freedom of the gospel, they no longer attach accomplishment or failure to their identity. How wonderful!
Finally, I love what Keller says (in summary of C.S. Lewis), that when you meet truly humble people, you don't come away from them thinking about how humble they are. You leave their presence thinking "how much they seemed to be totally interested in [you]."
My prayer is that I don't think great things of myself. Also that I don't think less of myself. I just don't want to think of myself much at all.
Doesn't that sound so nice?