Liz Lemon [to Jack]: "I'm sorry you got caught up in another one of Liz Lemon's adventures."I laughed a lot when I first heard this. It's a great line -- after all, we're each the star of our own life. Then I thought more about it. As I did so, it became even more true: I think I'm the star.
Jack Donaghy: "My adventures! I am the protagonist!"
It's definitely what led my wife to say, "Justin thinks he's cooler than he really is." I didn't laugh as much when I heard this, but it definitely got me thinking.
I remember when I was a big-time 8th grader. I was on the bus heading home having a conversation with a 6th grader. In a nonchalant manner she called me a "nerd." I began to make my case as to why this was not true. After arguing away her claim, point by point, she simply said, "I still think you're a nerd." This girl was simply saying the same thing that Angela told me: "Justin, you think you are cooler than you."
I just wish it hadn't taken 18 years to realize that it is so true.
Since I've been living my life as the protagonist of "Justin Schneider's Adventures," I haven't stopped to ask myself whether this is really my story. In a way, it is. But in a major way, it is not.
As a follower of God through Christ, the big story is his. His love adds import to my role, but I'm not the protagonist. I keep thinking of the line by Kundera (or Stanislavsky), "There are no small parts, only small actors" (said long before height-challenged Dustin Hoffman or Tom Cruise). Being a part of his story doesn't make us less important; it just makes him more important. Our role is to play the hell outta what we're given. That means all of what Jesus said, which Paul does a pretty good job of paraphrasing in Romans 12.
Like Angela and that 6th grader did for me, Paul clearly reminds us "Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us" (Romans 12:3, NLT).
That's enough for today. It's about time to start again tomorrow. I'm going to begin with this prayer from St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.