Mine. This word we learn at a very early age in order to determine the difference between self and other, but some days I feel my grasp of the word may have stopped back then (Truth - community life brings out the best and worst of me, depending on the day!). My mom likes to remind me of the time as a young child when she showed me a video of myself playing with my own toys in our family room, and I got SO upset at whoever this girl was who was playing with my toys! How dare she touch MY stuff!
And I am not alone! Look at how often the need for ‘mine’ shows up in pop culture. The first example that comes to mind is that of Gollum in J.R.R. Tolkien’s series Lord of the Rings. Talk about a creature overtaken by the need for ‘mine’! Gollum’s whole life becomes consumed by a single item, a ring, which he refers to as ‘my precious.’ He will stop at nothing to keep possession of the ring, and at the end of the arduous journey, he loses his life trying to regain control of that ring. So, who was in control here, Gollum or the ring?
How often do we get caught up in ‘mine’ or as I have heard it referred to as the "unholy trinity of me, myself and I?" To steal a line from a favorite country song of mine, “I wanna talk about me, wanna talk about I, wanna talk about number one, oh my me my, what I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see.” And how often do we stop with me? What do I want? What will make ME happy? Not that these questions are bad, because we need to learn who we are and what our desires are, both the good and the bad, but they should not be the end. Understanding myself is a good thing, but it must be done in light of the One who created me and knows me better than I know myself – Jesus.
So how do we do that? How do we learn about ourselves, in the rich uniqueness that we are, within the context that God intended? We need to develop a relationship with the One who created us to find out who He created us to be, and that relationship is reached through one word – prayer. We have to pray!
I recently started reading a new-to-me book that has really helped to deepen and re-focus my prayer life – and it is totally rocking my world! The book is Beginning to Pray by Archbishop Anthony Bloom. Every person on the planet who desires a better prayer life should read this book. There is more in the book than I could possibly share in this short blog post, but here is a quote that really is shaping my view on the ‘mine’ in my life and how it affects my prayer life and how I react to the rest of the world:
Have you never noticed that to be rich always means an impoverishment on another level? It is enough for you to say ‘I have this watch, it is mine,’ and close your hand on it, to be in possession of a watch and to have lost a hand. And if you close your mind on your riches, if you close your heart so that you can keep what is in it safe, never to lose it, then it becomes as small as the thing on which you have closed yourself in.
As I read and reread this quote, I am reminded of all the times in my life I close my hands around a possession or my heart around an emotion or thought, and how holding on to that item or emotion actually takes a hold of me, instead of the other way around (think Gollum). How much more free would I be if instead of dreading the day I have to let go of object X, Y or Z or instead of getting sad to leave somewhere before I have even arrived, if I just allowed each item I am given and each situation I encounter to pass through my life, enjoy it while it is there, and wish it well as it goes? This idea is absolutely difficult for me, but the outcome is SO freeing! When I allow God to transform my heart through prayer, to open my death grip on whatever I feel I can’t live without (picture that pair of shoes you can’t EVER get dirty or that anger you are harboring towards a coworker because they are SUCH a terrible person) I take tiny step towards true freedom and away from the fake freedom I have been clinging to. I have only begun to scratch the surface of this reality, but prayer is really opening me up to this whole new world of freedom!
To check out the book I mentioned, click here.