Saturday, June 11, 2005

Personal Creed II: Appreciation

This came from Mark Walter, who has a lot to offer although not a member of my immediate community:

The 3rd clause in my (abuilding) creed might be appreciation. Mark apposes selfishness, and in my own spiritual development I have found that very true.

Prayer might easily be my 4th clause. For many years I have tried to spend time in prayer (some might say spent time in prayer) and meditation. It has never been easy, but the one thing I have found easiest is the prayer of gratitude. Many times that's as far as I ever get with my prayers. Sometimes the only thing I can think about is 'Oh my God why have you given me so much? and there's that poor devil over there without legs or without a brain or a hopeless slave to one of the many insidious habits I've been guilty of, or simply staving; he's your child, too, isn't he.

Gratitude, appreciation: as far as I'm concerned that's half the ball game.

When we were young, Eric Berne was a great psychologist. His most famous book was Games People Play; one of his games was called "Now I've got you you s.o.b."

Well soon after I read that book, I had a close encounter with one of those gamers. He was a brilliant boy, PhD from Harvard, from which he had gone on to greater exploits. He had a lovely character, generous to a fault; I never knew anybody so willing to do so much for me.

But he turned: we were engaged in a group effort for him, much like something that he and others had done for Ellie and me, and I was insufficiently up front in the activity: I was an s.o.b., and he had me. The friendship nearly ended.

I would chalk that up to my own foolishness, but I wasn't the only victim. He was engaged to a lovely girl with a great career, the equal of his own, but he broke off because she didn't adequately express her love--- like he did.

Dear friends, don't get caught in that trap; don't give up friends because they're not sufficiently grateful for what you've done. Gratitude belongs to God, not you and me. Think of what God has done for you, and if you ever had a tendency to resent a lack of appreciation and to play NIGYYSOB, you will laugh at yourself and grow up.

The divine economy does not work entirely on mutuality although 1st John 4:19 says "we love him, because he first loved us." If we feel that, then we love his children, and it doesn't matter who helps whom: it's all in the family.


Liz Opp said...

Gratitude, appreciation: as far as I'm concerned that's half the ball game.

I agree, very much so. This past week has been very trying, very emotional. One of the ways I slow myself down to listen more closely to God is by seeking events and individuals for which I am grateful. Most of the time, eventually, I am able to have appreciation even for those things that had kicked me in the pants earlier.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

Larry said...

Bless you, Liz. I'm thankful for you. I've used this quote before, but it's worth repeating: from Screwtape Letters:

"Don't be mistaken, Screwtape; the cause of Our Father Below is never in greater jeopardy than when one of these miserable Christians looks around a world from which every vestige of God seems to have disappeared--- and still obeys." (Rough paraphrase)

david said...

I must admit the prayer of gratitude is the most difficult for me. I can give thanks but it always feels like a dead litany on my lips.

Sometiems it breaks through in prayer. But so infrequently it is almost certainly grace/Spirit talking and me just overhearing.

Mind you so is all really authentic prayer.

Larry said...

David, I appreciate that confession. Maybe it was like that for me the first 20 years. It's really a habit.

I generally don't have much to say to the Lord and thanking him is the easiest. I think God has responded to my gratitude by slightly minimizing the terrible self-centeredness that has afflicted me.

Al said...

As I told my daughter last night - gratitude is a skill to be practiced - an antidote for "I think it should be this way, I think it should be that way."

Larry said...

Also an antidote for plain, old-fashioned, uquitous self-centeredness.