I’m not feeling well. But don’t worry about me. I’ll soldier on – get through somehow. I must – there are things I have to do – people who depend on me – people who expect of me.
I’m okay thank you.
In this comparison I refer to those who see their own ego before all else. Not those who are at the end of their tether, staring into a dark horrible space, carrying the weight of a personal tragedy on their shoulders. Those people leak pain, leak desperation, leak “not usual”.
In this comparison I refer to these people:
‘Beware of practising your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. ‘So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ‘And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
I am referring to the ego-led. And I am not even referring to the “reward from your Father in heaven”. Because I read these verses as written into the times these words were spoken into: a time of transaction … of earned redemption … a time of cultural religion (which sounds familiar!).
High maintenance (again) best describes that “ego-led” approach today.
Those who worry about the transaction of living and their reward for normal living. Who expect others to appreciate the fact they got out of bed today. And who will never see me or you and whether we are leaking pain, leaking desperation, leaking “not usual”. Because their eyes and ears and heart will not allow me to be seen or heard.
But I do think there is a reward today. A real and tangible reward: connection and relationship … connection with another … relationship with another.
A reward that changes me not you. A reward that makes my day more “rewarding” more pleasant – more fulfilling.
These biblical words are spoken into a time and place not mine. Yet they speak to me, they live in me, I hear them spoken into my life today. And what I do with that is down to me (just as was in that time and place): I can nit-pick around in a “religious waste basket” – I can go all “academic and intellectual” – and I can find plenty to disagree with if I choose. Or …
I can take these words and find my own reward in them. See a truth I see in those I meet today and those I met yesterday and the day before that. A truth of personal choice. A choice of “high maintenance and ego-led” – or of connection and relationship.
A truth that shrinks me – or a truth that grows me.
More and more I read this bible as written for me and my well-being. Less and less a document of how to be a good Christian. Which means reading words (written into that time and place) with a different eye to the words of that time and place.
So I choose to read connection and relationship – personal well-being and growth. Because …
Isn’t that what any father wants?