Wednesday, March 18, 2009

17. Never bring unnecessary attention to yourself.

From Jeanine in Virginia:

I love attention! I enjoy being noticed and applauded and recognized. I get a kind of high from being the life of the party. I can see that praise is a subtle snare that easily entraps my soul and I struggle with it constantly. I know that holding my tongue is the better choice even when given a golden opportunity to draw attention away from another person by making a cute comment. Of course, knowing is not the same as doing and, unfortunately, I am not that successful at holding my tongue (nor at being cute, actually).

Shortly after my husband and I moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, for school, I drew some unnecessary attention to myself at work one day. I answered my boss’s phone for her and found myself in a conversation with the president of our company. A few hours later my boss took me aside for a moment. During my short talk with the president, I had, apparently, used the typical American guttural grunt which usually indicates affirmation or assent: “uh huh.” This sound was not received well by my listener, so I was asked to replace it with something else . . . quickly. I learned to use a more polite sounding, “Certainly” or “Yes” and so was able to better blend in to my environment.

”When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is a reminder to blend in to my surroundings. It is not encouragement to submerge my personality or deny my individuality. It is NOT telling me to BECOME a Roman (when I lived in Canada, I developed some Canadian speech patterns, but I was still ol’ American me). However, it IS reminding me to remove small, unimportant things from my life that could be barriers to relationships. Actions that cause others to notice ME are distractions – when people are looking at me, they can’t see Christ in me.

Neither prideful grasping for attention to feed my ego nor refusing to accommodate for the benefit of others will help me demonstrate Christ’s life to those around me. At the end of my life, I would rather be able to say with Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”


Mimi said...

I certainly have the same tempation, thank you for your words.

Carla said...

I need to say that I really enjoy those who "have the gift" of livening up a gathering with a little levity. I hope that in the effort to not draw undo attention to oneself that those who are gifted with humor don't hide it completely.

As far as looking at myself, while I am NOT the "life of the party" kind of person, I find that it is all too easy to enjoy doing too much of the talking in a conversation, especially if I'm talking about myself. That is definitely something I am grateful to be reminded of paying attention to this Lent. I hope it will rub off into the remainder of the year.

Michele Mulder said...

WOW Jeanine what honesty. I appreciate that so much in people. I am thankful for this maxim because it helps to keep me in check. Praise God. Thank you for being so "out" there, it is an encouragement and blessing. God be with us who have big personalities and need humility!

The Forty Maxims

  • 1. Be always with Christ and trust God in everything.
  • 2. Pray, fast and do acts of mercy.
  • 3. Read the Scriptures regularly.
  • 4. Read good books, a little at a time.
  • 5. Practice silence, inner and outer.
  • 6. Cultivate communion with the saints.
  • 7. Be an ordinary person, one of the human race.
  • 8. Live a day, even a part of a day, at a time.
  • 9. Be honest, first of all with yourself.
  • 10. Be faithful in little things.
  • 11. Do your work, then forget it.
  • 12. Do the most difficult and painful things first.
  • 13. Face reality.
  • 14. Be grateful.
  • 15. Be cheerful.
  • 16. Be simple, hidden, quiet and small.
  • 17. Never bring unnecessary attention to yourself.
  • 18. Listen when people talk to you.
  • 19. Be awake and attentive, fully present where you are.
  • 20. Think and talk about things no more than necessary.
  • 21. Speak simply, clearly, firmly, directly.
  • 22. Flee imagination, fantasy, analysis.
  • 23. Flee carnal things at their first appearance.
  • 24. Don’t complain, grumble, murmur or whine.
  • 25. Don’t seek or expect pity or praise.
  • 26. Don’t compare yourself with anyone.
  • 27. Don’t judge anyone for anything.
  • 28. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.
  • 29. Don’t defend or justify yourself.
  • 30. Be defined and bound by God, not people.
  • 31. Accept criticism gracefully and test it carefully.
  • 32. Give advice only when asked or when it is your duty.
  • 33. Be strict with yourself.
  • 34. Be merciful with yourself and others.
  • 35. Do nothing for people that they can do for themselves.
  • 36. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.
  • 37. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.
  • 38. Endure the trial of yourself and your faults serenely, under God’s mercy.
  • 39. When you fall, get up immediately and start over.
  • 40. Get help when you need it, without fear or shame.