Believe me, I write this column as no sort of spiritual giant; I don’t know my own weakness as well as I should, but I surely know it enough to see warning signs pop up everywhere when I’m tempted to feel self-righteous.
And here comes that dangerous word: but. But surely anyone with any spiritual sensitivity at all doesn’t have to look long at our society to see that we are, as I heard someone put it, constantly swimming in a sea of selfishness.
We do well to consider also that, even if we can aspire to a little unselfishness, our default mode is to be self-centered. Literally. Our view of the world, our contentment in it, is easily focused, judged, and completely dependent upon how comfortable, prosperous, and happy we are at any given moment.
Are we making increasingly more money? Living more prosperously? “Standard of living” above average? Didn’t lose too many golf balls on our last round? Got slightly nicer cars than our neighbors? Attend a church where all of our “needs” are professionally met, we honor our crucified Lord by rarely ever having to sing a song we don’t much like, and the performance is top-notch? Then life—or at least the top half-inch, whatever else is below the surface—is good.
Sadly, the evidence of our society’s soul-sickening shallowness is all around us. But sometimes some little thing makes it even more starkly obvious. One “news” item did that for me yesterday.
Talk about a slow news day! This item popped up on my iPad in one of those news smorgasbords that pull from lots of sources, including one source that never gives real news—unless you want to know who may be sporting a “baby bump” or what “stars” are beginning their latest affairs.
So I was not surprised to see, from that source, a headline discussing a famous pop star’s fuss with paparazzi. She didn’t seem concerned that photographs of her way short of clothes were everywhere. But it seemed to be driving her nuts (well, nuttier) that the pics, she claims, were altered to make her look forty pounds heavier than she is. She took to Twitter to urgently assure her fans that she is still “pencil thin.”
That’s a relief.
Okay. Seriously. Not many of us need an extra forty pounds.
But much more seriously, I feel sorry for this poor rich lady. I don’t think she needs to worry much about her weight. She seems very small indeed. I wish she could find, and let her soul be filled with, real meaning and healing and purpose and hope. I feel sorry for her children who will likely grow up in financial privilege but with impoverished values that lead toward despair.
A life filled to overflowing with what doesn’t ultimately matter, what will not last, and what cannot satisfy is a sad life. And I feel particularly sad for scads of sweet little girls who, growing up in a society that idolizes such people, receive yet another push toward physical anorexia and soul-shriveling poverty.
Our children deserve better. Real joy, not counterfeit. Real beauty, not soul-rot. Real riches, not just money. Real life that thrives by giving instead of shriveling by constant consuming.
Sadly, as I write this column, I realize what frustrates me most. It’s when I look inside and am forced to see how quickly my own soul becomes self-centered, shriveled, and pencil-thin.
To point toward what really matters and will bless, not curse, those who follow us, we have to know where real life is found. Our kids will look for it where they see us looking for it. What will they find?
You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!
Copyright 2019 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.