When little children talk to their teddy bear, in language only Teddy understands, we find that adorable. Later, when language skills are more developed and they carry on full conversations in make believe play with other children, that, too, is charming. It’s because they are un-self-conscious, unhindered by being overheard, unsophisticated. For myself, I can’t remember when I was last completely un-self-conscious. I’m sure it was the summer before I started school in First Grade. There, it was remarkable how other six-year-olds, in efforts to cover up their own self-consciousness, homed in on the differences of other children, teasing, mocking, name calling, sometimes aggressing (I was always the fat kid, so I was a prime target – with some very inventive names).
The teen years have fancy names like puberty and adolescence, but are, more accurately, a years-long rite of passage, during which humiliation, loss, confusion, awkwardness, all seem to take turns inflicting pain. And we get to live this lovely time of life in the company of others who are in the midst of the same challenges. Self-consciousness is pitilessly in charge as any teenager’s diary will attest.
In adulthood, with sophistication rising, the parameters change. Now, it’s a new world, with all the past hurts and traumas and insecurities resolved, healed, forgiven (if only!) The long-awaited ‘gift’ of being an adult soon makes weighty, often overwhelming demands never before considered. Keeping up appearances now becomes the new challenge. In 21st Century living, maintaining self-consciousness seems unavoidable. Here’s the catch, though:
“Jesus called a little one to his side and said to [the disciples], ‘Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn about heaven’s kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, you will never be able to enter in. Whoever continually humbles himself to become like this gentle child is the greatest one in heaven’s kingdom realm.’” Matt. 18:24-4. TPT
The utter simplicity of the Gospel! The clarity! The easy access! The trusting, childlike embrace of mystery! The un-self-consciousness required for entry! We have so much unlearning to do, so many confessions of the times we’ve said, ‘I’ll do it myself!’ It’s little wonder the Apostle Paul emphasized: “. . . the infinite, limitless riches of his grace and kindness, which was showered upon us in Jesus Christ. For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ.” Eph. 2:7,8, TPT.
I guess you could say we are invited to abandon our self-consciousness in favor of cultivating Jesus-consciousness. We are invited to see ourselves as we truly are, desperately in need of a Savior, while being loved to life by the Savior. We are invited to see our true emptiness, while being filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit. We are invited to hear Jesus speaking: “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear.” Matt. 11:28-30, TPT. Amen! PD