Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Rereading Books is Good for the Soul Part II

My last blog was supposed to be merely an introduction for this, the main theme that I wanted to write, but I felt that it would be too long so I separated them into two. I didn't really like the last blog all that much, but I think I will like this one even less, though for a different reason.
I remember the day after I wrote my blog about parallel parking I was somewhat concerned with something that I wrote. I wrote that I only brag about two things, my blog and my parallel parking. To be absolutely truthful, I brag about a lot of things. However, I always justified it by telling myself that I was doing it as a joke, I'd make a joke about how much faster I bike than Lance Armstrong and the next second I'd make a self deprecating joke and assume that it canceled everything out. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't.
I remember several months ago Brian wrote a comment on my myspace profile. He wrote, "You put the 'Ed' in 'needy.'" I'm not sure if he was just making a joke, or if he was actually making a really perceptive observation, I do desperately need affirmative statements from my friends and family. Mark Twain once said, "I can live two months on a good compliment." I can't. A good compliment serves me for about a day or two and then I start needing another. It's not that I've got a low self esteem, the blog is about my problem with pride; I think I'm great. (There's a perfect example of the sort of bragging jokes that I like to make.)
I remember the first time I heard someone talk about the "five love languages": words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. It took me about half a second to realize that I'm speak the language of words of affirmation.
Once I heard this I assumed that my "neediness" was merely symptomatic of my "love language." After rereading Searching for God Knows What I'm not so sure. Don Miller speculates that humans have a void that should be filled by God but is now empty. A rough analogy would be like Woody from the original Toy Story. At the beginning he is confident of his place in the world. He has Andy's love and so none of his imperfections matter. His pistol is missing, his voice box is a little outdated but it doesn't matter because he's Andy's precious toy. After Buzz comes along he feels the separation of Andy's affection and all of a sudden his world is turned upside down. Now he is self conscious of his inferiority. He has to compare himself to the other toys. He doubt his value.
Like Woody, I know all too well my shortcomings. Unfortunately I can't feel the love of God well enough to get my value from Him. I need to compare myself to others. Perhaps if I'm faster, smarter, funnier, richer, then I can feel as though I have worth. But really it's empty comparisons. I'm not the fastest, smartest, funniest, richest person so I'll never feel fulfilled. What Don's book made me realize is that perhaps I'm dealing with a spiritual problem.
Last weekend I made some comments that I regret. I may have made a few more egotistical "jokes" than normal, fished for compliments a little harder, in other words desperately sought affirmation, not out of low self esteem, but out of pride. For that I am sorry.
I don't mean that I think people who desire words of affirmation are all spiritually bankrupt, just that in my case I became a little bit extreme in my need to hear affirmation and I don't know that it's a coincidence that it happened during a time of summer slacking. My Bible's been gathering dust and my prayers are all too rare, usually a request for forgiveness.
I don't feel that I've expressed myself too well, Don does a better job of explaining the theory. But I won't try and waste anymore words. This isn't the best way to end a blog, so I'll close with a totally unrelated thought. Chopin's nocturnes are sure amazing. I'm listening to a recording right now and I can't think of any better music to play before bed.


Anonymous said...

Hey Ed, I think that your just like the rest of us, we are all broken and need affirmation. I think its important to work through these issues (i'm currently thinking a lot about my own brokeness recently) but to remember that we are all broken. I hope that Awaken can be a place where we all feel comfortable slowly exposing our brokeness and allowing God, through others and community, to slowly heal and build us into the people we are supposed to become. Make sense?

lowenfels said...

I remember reading once that it takes about 12 compliments to combat the blow to self-esteem that one criticism accomplishes, and i've always wondered why this is. I think it's also partly related to how we live in a society that does not encourage us to accept ourselves, but instead, makes us always think that we need something more to be just "ok". (I agree on the Chopin and Bach btw.)