Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Self-Fulfillment v Self-Donation

Finding your reason for being, your purpose in life is critical. “Who am I and why am I here?” are necessary questions for any individual who aspires to become a fully functioning mature human. For millennium after millennium, these questions have been asked and answers sought for within the context of man’s relationship to his Creator. Given that God created me, He is the One who defines me, the One in, by, and through whom, I find true meaning and purpose, and my highest good. Today, however, answers to these questions are often searched for within the realm of man’s relationship to himself. I want answers because I want to be true to myself and realize my full potential so that … Why? What for? Well, because I want to experience true self-fulfillment. Tragically, the answers we find within this realm will diminish and degrade our souls.

When my quest for meaning and purpose is reduced to self-fulfillment, then all things—all values, all experiences, all people, and all choices—are interpreted solely within the realm of the Kingdom of Self. “Does seeking after x help me attain or maintain self-fulfillment?” “Does y help me to feel better about myself or not?” “Will doing z make me happy?”

In the Kingdom of Self, values such as Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, are all approached from the standpoint of my needs, desires, and demands, rather than as reflections of God’s being that place demands upon my being. Here, in this realm, God and values must be de-formed so as to comfortably fit within my present predilections and personality. We can hear this self-orientation in the individual whom has been confronted with the demands of, say, the value of Goodness or Love, and says, “That is just not who or how I am.”

Even in our quests for personal transformation, we all too often approach and engage values and people solely as means for our ends: for helping us to get where we want to go, to transform us into the persons we intend to become. However, transformation is only achieved indirectly: it is a by-product of my relentless pursuit of honoring values that lie outside of and above me as objective realities.

Consider the differences between seeking to honor and worship God solely because His being places a demand upon my being to do so, and, in contradistinction, honoring and worshiping God so that I may be transformed. The first pursuit is all about placing appropriate honor where it is due, regardless of costs and benefits, whereas the latter approaches God as a means to my ends. The former will certainly broaden and deepen my soul but only as a by-product of my pursuit; the latter approaches God and all values primarily for self and, so, impoverishes my soul.

Self-fulfillment, transformation, and finding our place and calling in the world occur indirectly, as a result of our primarily seeking to know and honor God and those values that are reflections of His being, with all of our beings. Life, then, isn’t about self-fulfillment but of self-abandonment and self-donation.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2014

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