“When you give yourself away you find that a new and more real self has somehow been given to you.” – Peter Kreeft
When I was in grade school, I remember the fear that would grip my heart whenever my dad sat down each month “to pay the bills.” This event was usually accompanied by weeping, on my mother’s part when she was questioned about checks she’d written, and gnashing of teeth on my dad’s part. Eventually my dad would declare, “Well, next month we’ll all be going to the poorhouse.” In fourth grade, my mom found me crying in the back yard. When she asked me what was wrong, I told her I didn’t want to move to the poorhouse, wherever that was.
So I grew up with the notion of a very parsimonious God who might take care of us if he was in a good mood and if we went to Mass often enough. Probably not too different from many kids of my generation. So, even though God had in reality taken good care of me all of my life, by the time I was eighteen, I decided to drop him before he dropped me. Fortunately, he didn’t reciprocate and, twenty years later, I found myself at a weekend Women’s Retreat.
One of the speakers asked us to close our eyes and imagine God holding us as children. I could easily do this but I found myself clinging to God with my arms frantically thrown around his neck, scared to death he was going to drop me at any moment. When my fear welled up to tears in my eyes, I had the image of God suddenly sitting down on the floor with me still plastered to his neck. Then he said, “See, I’ll sit down and hold you so you don’t need to be afraid anymore that I’ll drop you.”
That image did much to reassure me that I need not be afraid of giving myself or what I own away. It’s not possible that God’s going to “drop” me, so I don’t need to cling to who I am or what I own or my children or the good opinion of others or anything. There’s no more need for me to try to shelter all that is ‘mine’ here on earth than there will be in heaven. I have the same loving Father now that I will have then and he’s just as ready, willing and able to care for me now as he will be then.
My heavenly Father proved this to me by sending Jesus to earth on Christmas Day over 2,000 years ago. He knew that the people of the time would kill his Son and that, many years later, I’d reject him. But he’s such a great Dad that he risked that pain for my gain. So , when Dr. Kreeft says, “When you give yourself away you find that a new and more real self has somehow been given to you,” I know what he’s talking about. He means that, when I do what God does, it makes me more like God–which is always a newer and more real me!