Thursday, July 24, 2014

When You Say No to Yourself

I'm struck by the prolific green bean bushes. The more I pick, the more they produce. I venture out with my colander, and I return every two days with it half-filled with crisp, long, bulging green beans. How do so many grow so quickly?

I love the principle of it all: the more it offers, the more it can offer. It's a generous plant, a biblical plant.

Then, while I sit crossed legged in the chairs designed for small children in the lobby of the Music Academy as my children practice piano, I read about the concept of saying "no" to oneself. It goes against the grain of everything I've read lately; instead of self-actualization, self-fulfillment, authentic selfhood, and saying "yes" to our true selves and true desires, the Christian notion of self-denial rubs at all my rough edges. It's so unnatural! It's so. . . wrong.

But maybe not. Maybe this is the most natural and obvious thing in the world.

It's like the bean plant that gives everything away--everything!--and finds it has more and more to offer as a result. It doesn't shrivel and suffer. Instead, it thrives at the very spot it lost a part of itself.

It's right and good to say no to oneself. At that very spot, a harvest comes.

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