We entered this world as helpless babies and we were totally self-centred. We had to be. We needed nourishment, we needed help when we hurt, we needed help when we were afraid, but we could not provide any of those things for ourselves. So we were vocal about our needs and our parents had to figure out what it was we were crying about.
As time went on, our parents began to let us know that other people had needs, too and that our needs didn’t always have to take precedence over the needs of others. That is a hard lesson and it seems that we need to learn it again and again, day by day. I am 80 years old and I have been a Christian for over 50 of those years, yet I find that self-centeredness is still my instinctive response, my default setting.
Nevertheless, because I am a Christian something else has taken root in me that, most of the time at least, prevents me from acting on those self-centred impulses. That something else, or more correctly somebody else, is the Holy Spirit. There is a little voice inside that tells me that taking the self-centred way will not result in happiness, not for me and certainly not for anyone else.
This little voice inside of me also tells me there are things I should do that I don’t want to do. Things that bump up against my self-centred nature, things that I don’t want to do, sometimes things that I am afraid to do for fear of what others might think or how they might react. Yet when I obey the prompts of the Holy Spirit and do things that I have never done before, and wouldn’t even think to do without those prompts, I feel good about it no matter how things work out.
It is in this way that the God who transcends this physical world begins to transform me into someone that I could not ever be by following my self-centred nature. This is how I begin to realize who I really am, the person that God meant me to be. This does not translate into acclaim from the world. “The things that are highly esteemed among men are an abomination to God.”
It does translate into a deep feeling of peace with God and love for my fellow man that does not depend on how they treat me. That, plus hope for a future that transcends this present world.