Monday, April 26, 2010

The Me I Want To Be

by John Ortberg

The day I recovered from a weeklong migraine turned out to be the day I found this book to celebrate being headache-free at last!

What I like about this book is that it doesn't take you on a psychoanalysis of self that makes for indulgent navel-gazing. 2-3 pages into the first chapter, I'm paying attention: "What I really want is to be fully alive inside. Ironically, becoming this person will never happen if my primary focus is on me, just as no one becomes happy if their main goal is to be happy. The truth is, those who flourish always bring blessing to others - and they can do so in the most unexpected and humble circumstances."

Then, it gets even better - "Your 'spiritual life' is not limited to certain devotional activities that you engage in. It is receiving power from the Spirit of God to become the person God had in mind when He created you - His handiwork. God made you to flourish - to receive life from outside yourself, creating vitality within yourself and producing blessing beyond yourself." Blessed to be a Blessing!

Another favourite quote from the book [Temption: How not to get hooked]: "Blessed are you, not because you can have every desire fulfilled, but because you are not your desires." I like this.

I like another chapter where it says 'Let your desires lead you to God'. My work has always been led by desires and I've had a great run until I stopped all work to focus on the girls. I always felt that God wires people with desires that build up their strengths, fire up their passion, and allow them to add positive value to the world. For me, to live without paying attention to my desires, or denying them for some kind of surrendedness in my relationship with God is surreal and just zaps the life out of me. In actual fact, God has shown me a lot about Himself and about me through my desires. I think many people are afraid of facing their desires for fear of disappointments. For me, they come together, and form very important components in my relationship with God. Disappointments in my life do not indicate the absence of God or His pleasure with me any more than desires fulfilled indicate an euphoric state of sinlessness. And hope deferred? Well, it's a good place to discover what takes centre-stage in my life!

Listen to this: "God did not take away Paul's desire to achieve: rather, He harnessed it so that Paul could serve others. Maybe you have a strong drive in your career. Maybe you are highly motivated by the opportunity to learn. Maybe you just love to accomplish. If your achievement desires are leading you to workaholism, to woshipping status, to neglecting prayer, or to using people, then your work needs redirection. But if that is not the case - if you find yourself growing in God and there's an inner fire in you to achieve - go ahead and achieve. Revel in the joy of excising godly dominion." Now I really like that!

Throughout the book which covers identity, spirit, mind, time, relationships, experience, John Ortberg draws your focus back to God and His ways. No where does he offer pat solutions or glib answers. Rather, his teachings come from a life steeped in the discovery of God and one that cherishes lessons in the simple and complex moments of life.

This book reminds me of a children's book I used to read out to my little girls titled 'I Want To Be' where a little princess went round asking her mom, her dad, the cook, a general, an admiral, the prime minister and her maid what she should be. And found that the best choice would be one she made herself.

Somewhere along the process of ageing, adults seem to forget that for themselves and for others. Picture this: a nice crisp sheet of A4 paper being crumpled, rolled and convoluted to fit into a teapot spout - that's what it looks like trying to fit into someone's idea of who you should be! Yukkss.
Where you can get it: S$20.50 SKS Books ISBN978-0-310-27593-0 [published 2010]
Level of impact: Clear and deep 
Timing of book: When you want to get to know the 'you' that God takes pleasure in rather than the one you feel jaded with.