On Sunday morning, in the midst of brushing my teeth, finding shoes, waking the kids from slumber and reheating cups of tea in the microwave, I listen to an interview on television with Dr. Wayne Dyer on motivational speaking. One glance at the screen shot of the book that made him famous, Your Erroneous Zones, and it all comes back to me.
That wily man in the V-neck on the cover lays on the coffee table among ashtrays full of cigarette butts, empty beer bottles and horoscope books in my childhood house.
Think good thoughts and good things will surely follow is the basic message that made Dr. Dyer the Father of Motivation. Somehow his theory didn’t work for a little girl thinking good thoughts about her mother conquering alcoholism.
According to Author, Jonathan Black, also interviewed for the story, Americans are more receptive to motivational messages than other cultures. Why? Because of “the impulse we have to improve ourselves and at the same time remain constantly disgruntled. We Americans always want something better.”
I look in the mirror at the new creases around my eyes and mouth, the extra skin around my mid-section and I want something better instead of being thankful for a healthy body. Assess Facebook likes and Twitter followers wanting more because I dream of writing a book that reaches more people and this is what it requires.
What number is high enough to fill the ravenous hunger we have for approval, meaning and purpose?
While staring at the television pondering motivation, holding the mirror of an interview to my heart and take inventory, the unspoken question I ponder comes in the next minutes of the interview.
“If it’s so self-evident, why are people still hungry for the message of motivational speeches?”
“Because you don’t have to be sick to get better,” Dyer responds with a smirk on his face.
Wanting to be better is the sickness of our culture. A soul sickness that longs for recovery only found with tight-focus on Jesus.
Wanting to be better is lofty until it becomes our own prescription for success.
The “can do” spirit fueled by discontent is what is ruining us.
Frozen like an ice sculpture in my bedroom, I am haunted by the deception of a more lifestyle; what seems noble and true about wanting to be better until motivation becomes a subtle addiction to self-reliance.
How does a Savior fit into a lifestyle crammed with words that begin with self?
This is how my Rwandan friends can be authentically joyful when their cupboards and feet are bare of what we take for granted. How they can laugh after carrying heavy water jugs for miles up a mountain. Or smile with welcome after sleeping on a dirt floor without blankets or pillows.
They are content with today; thankful for what is provided.
Where we have an insatiable appetite for tomorrow; my African friends illustrate contentment with each moment given.
An experience of true joy isn’t a result of wanting to be better but an outcome of believing God truly loves you. Long lasting, steadfast, unwavering joy is found in a Person, not in what He does for us.
Think the thoughts Jesus has about you and become the person He created. Goodness will surely follow.
As we approach the season of more, improve and wanting better, how are you experiencing contentment and joy this week?