Friday, October 10, 2014

The Cure for our Incurable Quest for Significance

In The Significant Life, attorney George M. Weaver argues that our quest for self-importance governs our lives:

  • Individual humans are not concerned so much about the survival of the species as they are about their personal survival or significance. In order to push ourselves beyond our confining space-time limits, we as individuals try to set ourselves apart from the rest of humanity. It is unsettling to admit that one is average or ordinary – a routine person. (7)

Weaver documents this quest in many ways:

  • Salvador Dali once said, “The thought of not being recognized [is] unbearable”…Lady Gaga sings, “I live for the applause, applause, applause…the way that you cheer and scream for me.” She adds in another song, “yes we live for the Fame, Doin’ it for the Fame, Cuz we wanna live the life of the rich and famous.” (7)

The quest for fame and significance can be as demanding and life-controlling as our quest for food. It can take many forms. For Lady Gaga, it takes the form mass adoration. However, the quest for adoration never seems to produce contentment.

Comedian Al Jolson had achieved fame, but it was never enough to insulate him from jealousy:

  • According to his biographer, “He once had a team of performing elephants fired because he thought the audience liked them too much.” (59)

Nor does fame protect us against bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, fear, and anger. Instead, this quest takes us captive and will not let us go.

What then is the answer? Can we derive our worth – our self-definitive – apart from performance or any other characteristic of ourselves? Can we find freedom from self-obsession?

Some find temporary relief through relationships and sexual conquests. However, these relationships rarely match expectations. Besides, we might place too much pressure on the other to meet our needs for significance. They may not always see us as the quintessential sex god/goddess or even lover.

Jesus promised:

  • “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

He promised “rest” for our weary souls. He gives this supernaturally, but He also gives it cognitively. Having become convinced of His unchanging love for me, I can now begin to shed concerns about who I am and what others think about me. The important thing is that I am His – forever. Consequently, I am no longer defined by my achievements or acclaim, but by the fact that I belong to Him.

His love has given me a freedom that I never had. Because I know that He loves me despite my unlovable traits, I can now be transparent about these things and take responsibility for my failures.

Before, I couldn’t fail. Failure had been too painful. It told me that I was inadequate, a nothing, and a loser.

I still want to achieve, but it’s for Him – the One who loves me and died for my sins.

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