21 Oct 2021

CGN Episode 6: Self-Forgetfulness (Daniel Russo & Chantelle West)


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Welcome to the church of God network podcast everybody. My name is Daniel Russo. I’m here with Chantelle West fellow CGN Board Member. And we are here to talk about self forgetfulness. So Chantelle and I actually haven’t had a chance to talk about this topic yet. But a couple months ago, I think it was we were both going through some life things. And I remember you recommended this book, the freedom of self forgetfulness by Timothy Keller to me. And it was really helpful. Is it a very short book, I think you could read through it in like 20 minutes, I forgot how many pages it is, but it’s very, very short. And there’s some things in it I wasn’t necessarily on board with, there’s a section about self esteem that I think maybe wasn’t as nuanced as it could be. But there’s a central point he was making about self forgetfulness, and its role in the Christian walk that I thought was really impactful, and I had not heard before. And fortunately, it’s in the Scripture. It’s not just someone’s conjuring. But that’s what we’re going to talk about today. So I think what we decided was that we’re going to actually read through First Corinthians three verses 21, through First Corinthians four, verse seven. So I’ll read that for us. And we’ll get started to verse 21. So let no one boast and men, for all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or see this, or the world, or life or death, or the present, or the future, all are yours, and you are Christ, and Christ is God’s. This is how one should regard us as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards, that they be found faithful, but with me, it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me, therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time before the Lord comes, who will bring to light things now hidden in darkness, and will disclose the purposes of the heart, then each one will receive his commendation from God, I’ve applied all these things to myself and Apollo’s for your benefits for others, that you may learn by us not to be not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against the other. For who sees anything different you. What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it? Why do you boast as if you did not receive it? So that’s the section that sort of is the centerpiece the linchpin in this conversation. And I don’t know about you Sean’s I don’t know why this happens quite often, where I’ll read a section of Scripture, it just happened to me recently, in preparation for a sermon I’m working on that you read a section of scripture and you see even just one sentence go, I definitely read that scripture 100 times, and I didn’t realize what was being communicated there. And specifically, verses three through five of First Corinthians four where that for me?


Yeah, it’s, it is very shocking, kind of reading through that, especially now that I have a new view of that section of Scripture. It’s like, Whoa, like, it is literally literally reads completely different. And I think the sometimes when you do read Scripture, there’s so many little nuances in it, that when you read it, like just so quickly, it’s so easy to just kind of like skim read it and not really get the depth of what was intended, at least for me, I do that and, and then whenever it gets broken down, it’s like, wow, there’s so much meat in such a small amount of Scripture. And then it’s really exciting to get to kind of process through it.


I think it’s I think it’s also the place where in life when we read it, because I know when I read it, when I read it in the context of this book, I was in a place where I was getting resurgence of you know, guilt or remorse for past things in my life has been the idea because I everyone’s sort of aware of the fact that you shouldn’t care what men think of you, right? Like you shouldn’t care what society or anyone else really thinks about you. And I think the default reaction after that is it just matters what I think or how I feel on doing and I think even in the church, maybe if you say that, like yeah, that’s right. You know, as long as you’re you know, as long as you think you’re doing the right thing, that’s great, but the concept that you wouldn’t care what you think he is this idea that that you wouldn’t judge yourself or pronounce a verdict on yourself, either is interesting. And I think I’ve been thinking about that a lot, mostly in the context of, we don’t only do we not have all the information, what are our hearts in the way we look at circumstances are so clouded by the things we’ve gone through, or our own baggage, our own judgments are probably not going to be accurate, they’re going to be too harsh or too dismissive. And so our view of ourselves is just as ridiculous or should easily just dismiss other people’s.


Sometimes I feel like our view of ourselves can even be worse than others, because we see all of the flaws every single day, you know, if we look in the mirror, we see the things that we don’t like about ourselves. And I don’t know about you, but like, especially when I was a kid, like my parents all the time used to tell you were so hard on yourself, Why are you so hard on yourself? And I remember, just like little things, like if I got, like words wrong, a spelling test, I would just cry, I was so mad at myself for messing up, we’re sure like not being, you know, the perfect child or whatever. I thought it was disappointing my parents when in fact that they weren’t like, dude, you’re learning your kid, like, why are you so upset, and it wasn’t that they were putting pressure on me, I was thinking to myself, and to this day, I still struggle with that, where I, I am my own worst critic, critic, and where I would give grace to other people and be like, oh, they’re human, you know, it happens. It is what it is, I can forgive and move on. I am. So I like put so much judgment on myself. And I’m just like, I expect like the rune of myself. And I think there can be some, there can be some positives from that, because that means that generally, like you’re more of a productive person, sometimes or that means that, you know, you push yourself a little bit farther than maybe other people, I don’t know. But for me, I have to really like balance myself in that because I know if I too hard on myself, then I can go to the complete opposite, and then just start going, Well, if I can’t do it, I better just not do anything. And then I just go into depressions because they’re frustrating.


The interesting thing is because I think the central conflict or point in all this, and I’m going to plagiarize this, this is not my original thought. Remember listening to a message, one church of god ministers message about the central conflict between us and God. And when we get God’s Holy Spirit, we’re in conflict with God. For the first time, people in the world are not in conflict with God, because they don’t have God’s Holy Spirit. dwelling within them. It’s just there. It’s just the human spirit. Now they are in one way. They’re definitely hostile to God, but there’s not this inner war going on. Because in us, there’s God’s Spirit. And then there’s our carnal human spirit, and they’re fighting against each other. And the thing that, you know, we were talking before, the podcast started about people who have changed our minds on things or changed the way we see phenomenon. And the statement that deep down whether we realize it or not, we all think we are God. We are the gods of our own life. To me, that was the most impactful things I’ve heard in the last five or six years. Because I think that’s at the center of this, at least for me, I’m similar in that, I don’t know if I’d say I’m a perfectionist, but I’m very sort of achievement oriented, like I want to be doing, I want to be accomplishing. And that’s a very selfish pursuit. Like, when you think about it, it’s not just service for service sake, or wanting to help other people without expectations very much like wanting to accomplish or feel like, feel like I’m doing a good job and things, whatever it is. And if we were really content if we were really just about, I want to do what God wants me to do, and that’s it, I’m doing it for that, say, because I’m seeking the kingdom or my conversions most important thing, then our egos and the way we view ourselves wouldn’t come into play, we wouldn’t have this. This phenomenon where we need to justify our own existence or that we’re a success or that we’re doing better than other people. And I think that’s the little god that’s inside of us this idea that we are in control of our own lives. We are the ultimate. I think maybe what we were saying about giving people the grace and not giving that to yourself is because probably deep down You’re the most important thing in your life not them so you can give them grace it’s almost like submissive but for yourself it’s why I’m the god here I need to be the one who’s doing well and accomplishing and it’s the whole spectrum of selfish I liked his I like Timothy Keller’s point that people who are narcissistic and self loathing are both selfish


Absolutely. I’m really like I’m kind of a words person I really like reports are like broken down to the original context. And I like what it says pride in First Corinthians is actually translated physio which means overinflated swollen distended beyond its proper status which is like a really I think very fascinating mental image of the ego and just is true it’s like our egos so like puffed up and swollen and it’s just kind of empty kind of a just nice to keep being filled by something that that’s often when addiction can set in or when you’re just constantly doing things not for the enjoyment of it but simply because you’re trying to feel better about yourself and I think maybe we can kind of go into what the opposite like when someone has low self esteem and high self esteem it’s basically two sides of the same coin and I really liked that I never thought about that before because I’m you know you always hear like in the psychology world in general they talk about how having a low self esteem is like a really big issue and how it’s really important to fix your low self esteem which I do you think there are some positives to that because if you’re constantly just for rating yourself and talking bad about yourself and you’re like in a world that’s not healthy you know that’s genuinely not helping me like good self talk and to be your own coach or your own like you know only cheerleader where instead of being like oh that was really stupid What did I do that but be like you know, it’s okay I’m gonna stop being like a like an inner mother or like a father or something like that it’s really important to talk to yourself and you write like what


that’s why I think I like this book is that the solution or the actual answer is it doesn’t matter like yeah you screwed up or whatever it is, but it’s not the focusing on the boosting yourself up or bringing yourself down if you’re more narcissistic I like the idea that it just doesn’t matter it’s about neither it’s about making it so that it You shouldn’t need either one it’s okay it’s more maybe analytical yeah screwed up money repent. But then you just move on because really if we understand what forgiveness is and what we’ve been forgiving of, you know, we’re forgiven odds aren’t nature at baptism like the we’re forgiving of the fact that we cannot obey perfectly that we do not have Christ nature when God looks at us now he sees Christ’s righteousness not around so if if our sins are removed from us, as far as he says, from the west, then the fact that we hold on to these things is just about satiating our own pride or our own self worth.


Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s a really hard place to get to. To just like letting that go especially when it’s become such an ingrained part of the way that we function the way that our brain functions I think that’s just very natural for our egos or just our brain to constantly like, process things over and over and over instead of just being like, yeah, you messed up it’s okay like you’re not perfect you repent and then you move on instead of just like obsessively like turning over Why did I do this and what happened maybe lead up to do you know, like, going through the whole like, just trying to figure out why you did what you did, but it’s like, yes, maybe it is helpful to understand like, the psychology of what made you get to that point and probably so you don’t do that again, and like there’s like positives to that. But if you’re constantly turning it out to like, keep passing judgment on yourself, then it’s really painful and it’s like you’re almost like re traumatizing yourself over and over again and to be like really self destructive.


It’s, it’s interesting because in the spirit of openness and honesty, If there’s a if there’s a spectrum of self loathing and narcissistic, I admit I’m on the more narcissistic side, I don’t really explain, I’m not a self loading 10 person, but I have a number of close friends over the years who definitely struggle with self loathing and through interacting with them a lot and seeing the dynamic. It did, it was impressed upon me pretty early on that that kind of mindset is just as self focused and selfish as the narcissist again, because it becomes completely about doing things and getting people’s approval or making them happy, or whatever it is to give yourself a sense of, I’m worth something because I made that person happy. So all those transactional things about doing something to serve or being nice to someone are at the root of done, because you want to feel better about yourself. And I think that’s just the interesting thing about what Timothy Keller talks about in this book, and just my life experiences that that’s a human problem that it comes it comes from Adam and Eve and Satan in the garden, and that we chose to be the gods of our own lives. And I mean, that’s the whole, one of our whole foundational viewpoints on human existence in the church is that mankind can’t govern itself, we are we’ve been given a period of time to run things the way we see fit. And then at the end, we’ll have this whole history to look back on the state, you all try to do it your way, I didn’t step in, and look where it got you in our individual lives, I think it’s the same thing that that our whole day to day existence is about much of it when you when you stop and think about propping ourselves up or doing things because we think that’s what other people want us to do, or that’s what makes us a success. Or when we get depressed, it’s because we’re not measuring up to some sort of either external or internal standard of what we should have accomplished by 25, 30, 40, whatever it is. And those things are incredibly disruptive.


Yeah, absolutely. I think there is a point that Keller made where he talks about the ego, being like any other part of the body. And like when, so for example, like if your body feels good, you just don’t think about it, your finger works, your hips, work your, your toes work, it’s like not a big deal. But when you stub your toe, or when your hip starts giving you a lot of pain, it like draws attention to itself. And then you start thinking about that, that exact part of your body. And he talks about how your ego constantly draws attention to itself. Why? Because it’s in pain. It’s not, it’s not cool, it’s not healed. And whatever your ego is, is not healthy. That’s like a daily occurrence. And I think it’s very fascinating that most people probably see that as just being a part of a human, just, we’re just human, and this is just part of life. But I don’t think that’s actually true, I think you can get to a place where your ego isn’t constantly calling attention to itself where it is healed, and it is full, and instead of it being like, puffed up, it is filled, it’s filled with God, it’s filled with God’s Holy Spirit the way that it should be. Because I know that you’ve mentioned in the past podcast, which I love this too, it’s we all have a god sized hole inside of us, and the only thing that can fill it is God. And we might not ever be able to experience the fullness of that in this lifetime, as a human. We’re really only going to be able to fully experience that once we’ve become spirit and we shed the flesh. But I do think it is a very noble thing to work towards, towards healing, and working with God to healing that part of ourselves that ego so that it’s not constantly calling attention to itself so we can just live and not think about it and just enjoy our life and just say, you know, I am, I am going and I’m going to, I don’t know, join some sort of competition and I It doesn’t matter if I win or not. It just matters that I enjoy it. And then I’m doing this and then whoever wins, it’s like awesome. I’m super happy for you and genuinely feel joy that they won. Can you Imagine just being able to do something for simply surely the joy of it. That’s like another level. Most people like can’t even fathom it. And I have a hard time. You know, and I was lucky to get there.


Yeah I was, I was really competitive as a kid, hyper competitive. And I’m sure there’s still things that I think my competitiveness is now internal. It’s now not any probably more healthy. But I think it’s that whole, like, doing always doing something and trying to, in my own mind achieve something. But early on, like in middle school, high school, music was competitive for me. Especially I’m a guitarist. So anyone who knows guitar players know is like the most competitive, maybe saxophone players in jazz are close, but we’re really competitive bunch. And I in high school, I remember thinking, This is terrible. This is sucking the joy out of playing guitar and doing music. And I remember High School was a big point of me trying to get to the point where I don’t care, like I don’t care if there’s always someone better than most people are going to be better than you, you know, especially if you’re not going to do this professionally. And when I did was at that point, just with that very one specific thing, music was so much better, it became non competitive, you meet people who love it just for the sake of playing music, if someone else gives a great performance, you enjoy it as much as they do. And so right that is a very small sort of example in life. But imagine getting to that point with everything. And I don’t probably think we can get to that point with everything. But I think especially given Paul’s example, it is possible to get there by and large, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the issue of contentment, and the process of how you get there because I think we in the church talking about contentment a lot especially as it relates to Paul being contented in any circumstance given all he went through. But there’s a way I see it as a sort of an equation there’s faith that is one of the first sections this idea that you trust in God and that you’ve studied enough to know what his promises are and what he doesn’t promise you so you know what to actually expect from God. And then there’s a this middle section in the equation for you get to contentment, and that is surrender. And I think that’s a fascinating topic because the term surrender is not really used in Scripture. There are some words in the Old Testament obviously we’re talking about battles, but this idea of surrendering to God is something you get contextually from reading scripture submission not being surrendered submission being distinctly different in submission being I don’t know what you’re doing God but I guess I’ll go along with it and you’re you know, it’s the grudging process and you don’t really want to do it but you know, you have to rest surrender is I don’t know what you’re doing God, but you do, and I trust you and just doing it and I think self forgetfulness is such a big part of that because self forgetfulness is a part of the stage of development where it’s less about you and what you want. Because I know for me and myself, a big part of my inability to surrender is things like if I do surrender to God, like I want this thing and if I surrender to God that means I might not get that thing that thing might be bad for me or I’m going to be God might allow me to be sick or persecuted or single forever in a bad marriage or whatever it is, and I don’t trust that God’s gonna make me happy. I only trust that I know what’s gonna make me happy so I don’t want to relinquish that control and I think self forgetfulness when you when you remove yourself from your own center of attention, I think that’s a big part of surrender contentment in just the sort of those ultimate states of Christian life.


Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s a really, really good point. And it’s very hard to get to Because ultimately, I think we all have control issues whether or not we can admit it. I think we all like show we all have different ways of controlling and ways that we learned growing up how to control our environment, and I always thought I was like, scenery easy going, I thought I was just like, very simple, like people pleaser, you know, that kind of type where it’s like, oh, cool, girl, you know, like, I’m just so easy and whatever, and I don’t need this and that I am very, actually very needing to be in control. And but I do it in a way that I convinced myself that I’m not in control. You know, it’s like, I’m so good at reading people that I know how to act. So that the situation is more controlled, but don’t even realize that I’m doing. That’s just what I learned how to do when I was a kid, if I just go along with whatever they say, then everything’s gonna be good, and we’re just gonna be happy. And we’ll move on, you know what I mean? But that is like, in and of itself a form of control. So I think even if people think like, Oh, I don’t have control issues, you probably do you actually very much to you just do it in a weird way.


The interesting thing is, I think I used to have more control issues, like outwardly like, towards other people controlling behavior. And now I’m seeing it’s very much about I think we’ve talked about this before, but it’s about me like I have this need to be perfectly in control of myself, which is pretty courses a bit inherently ridiculous, especially given our Christian walks. But when you talked about overanalyzing before, and that’s been a new phenomenon of my mid to late 20s and early 30s, where I have this obsessive need to understand, like, if I did something that I can’t believe I did, or I fell short, then it’s, I’m going to focus all my effort on trying to understand why and regain control, like the idea that I don’t like the idea of being out of control. Like if something occurs in my life, that throws me for a loop or on down or whatever it is, I don’t like not having the ability to just write the ship mentally emotionally, like I can’t just flip a switch and move past it. And the ironic things, I wind up spiraling because I over focus on that thing, instead of coming up out of it, I just go back down further into it. So yeah, I have the same issue. It’s more inward in that probably relates back to being the God of my own life, like I have to be controlled with myself. Yeah,


I think it’s fascinating, just kind of, I think, then you go into personalities and family dynamics, we can just, we can talk about that for literally hours. And why and how we get to the place that we are, and we all learn these coping mechanisms to survive, basically, like, your way of doing that like having to process all of that internally was probably a way for you to like, just survive the environment. They were not that you were in like a bad or unhealthy environment. It’s just because your parents are human, and my parents are human, and they make mistakes. And when you’re a kid, you’re so you are totally beholden to their love, you’re totally beholden to their emotional experience, because you don’t know how to regulate yourself at that point. And so you learn how they cope with things so that you can learn how to cope with things. And it’s just very fascinating, like how we all like, figure it out different ways to deal with our own like, little environment. But kind of going to another point or maybe even circling back to pride. There was a quote that I read from CS Lewis and I thought was really profound. It’s just like a very simple like a nugget of kind of what we were talking about, just kind of bring it all together. So it’s from, from the book, Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, gets no pleasure out of having something only out of having more of it the next person, we say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer or clever or better looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or looking, there would be nothing to be proud about. And I just think Whoa, that is so stinking true, and something that I find myself getting caught up in pretty much every single day where I’m constantly comparing myself to other people and unintentional it’s just super subconscious and your brain just kind of goes to those things at least. hope I’m not alone in that but I think we all do that. You know, it’s super weird. And when you are when you’re feeling jealous of someone and you see someone like for example, you know, I’m a photographer and I see someone else like who has his studio and they’re doing it and have family and their kids and they’re posting things online and like that very like ego part of myself just in because I want that, like I look those things and it’s really hard to see someone else have it and then you start becoming jealous and resentful. But then you have to stop and go Wait, if all of that was taken away from them, would you be happy No, like, I don’t want that person not to have all those things like, I want them to enjoy that thing. I’m just mad because I don’t have it. You know what I mean? Like, it’s very selfish. And inherently we are all so super selfish, even if we somehow like myself, like I convinced myself that I was figuring not selfish. I was like the most selfish, selfless person in the world. I am not a very selfish person. But we all are. And we all struggle with these things. And I think I mean, what are your thoughts? What are your thoughts on?


I mean, I identify. I mean, we’ve talked about this before that the the idea of seeing people who have something you want, right, but it’s but it’s beyond. It’s beyond envy or jealousy. It’s is it feels like it’s something more deep seated. because like you said, it’s about you wanting that thing. It’s not about you necessarily being mad that other people have it. But this, the thing that I come back to a lot is the most important thing in life is our conversion. And God’s plan for making that’s it. We are not promised a spouse, we’re not promised children. We’re not promised. We’re not promised much of anything in terms of our physical circumstances or well being. But I think there’s a there is a culture in the church, but I think it happens to all of us individually, too. I’ve definitely been there where there’s this implication that well, if Yeah, if I go through life insurance conversion happens as I go through that process, that’s great. But like I want family or kids or I want a certain kind of job, or I want whatever fill in the blank, I want this thing I want some fulfillment, that somehow wouldn’t be as worth it. But if you if you go through life, and you first of all, life has amazing things to be interested in and to take pleasure from there’s so much in life to enjoy. But if you go through life, and you go through the conversion process, and God gets where he needs you to be to be a member of his family, that’s a win like there’s nothing more important that we’re supposed to love and desire that above everything else. So and I look at my own life because I have a bunch of examples of adjusted to circle in on the the family issues, you brought up family and kids and everything, who didn’t either didn’t get married at all, or got married very late in life. And there’s some of my heroes, there, they’re the the templates of what it means to be a Christian man in my life. And so sometimes I have to sit myself down and go, Okay, I know you want those things. But all these guys who are your spiritual heroes, they either didn’t get it, or they got it late, or they got it and then they lost it. But if you wind up that way, if God gets you to that kind of place, is that not when is that all that really matters? And the answer is yes. That all whatever pleasures you can think about or comforts you means is pale in comparison to what God has in store for us. And our, whatever time we have in this life, this this blit is nothing compared to being part of God’s plan God’s family for eternity. And I think we need to reorient ourselves to that reality and focus on our conversion and doing meaningful work. And if those things happen along the way, that’s great, but we’re not we’re not promised them and that’s something I can articulate and I understand and I can talk myself like I myself up and remember that but you have to continually do that because you definitely get in those ruts where you yearn for things and comforts and what you’re really trying to do and your point before is filled that God sized hole with something that isn’t god


yeah, absolutely. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting a family and wanting children and you know wanting a spouse or or wanting a certain job. There is nothing wrong with that. I think it is a beautiful thing actually it’s one of those things because it is those are God’s blessings and if they’re done right if if you don’t get into a marriage to fill that God sighs hope you know what I mean with someone who maybe for because for example, like I’m I am divorced, which is a little bit weird, like I’m 28 years old, and I’m a divorced woman. I won’t go into the details of that, but it was probably one of the biggest shocks of my life and it changed me very much as a person in I would say, towards the positive thankfully, it could have very well gone the other way, but thankfully, I was able to kind of take it in a way that was like, okay, like, either I fall apart or I phone to God, which one is it going to be, and I ended up thankfully, falling into God. And I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, I went into that marriage, trying to fill a hole, and trying to fill that void. And it just, it was not healthy, unfortunately. And I learned very quickly that it wasn’t, it was me too, like I, I very much have so much that I need to work on and myself it was a was a double thing like both of us were not going into that marriage for the right reason necessarily, it wasn’t so that we could, you know, just honor God together. Because marriage is ultimately the depiction of the marriage between the church and Jesus Christ, we weren’t going into that with that mindset, it was a I have this need I need to very codependent is very unhealthy. And it fell apart because it wasn’t healthy, it didn’t have good roots. And so I think that’s the thing that a lot of people forget is that just because you have something that is like culturally seems like you have it or whatever, doesn’t mean that it really is the right version of what God has blessed. Like, it’s not necessarily a blessing. Like sometimes it can be like, you know what, I’m putting myself in a situation where I’m convinced myself, it’s a blessing because I’m married, or I have this or whatever. But it’s not because it wasn’t from a healthy place of love, it was more fear. And I think it’s really easy to as a human, think that because I have this, I should be happy, and then have it and then you’re like what’s wrong with me, I should be happy right now. And yet, not. But it’s because you went into it with the wrong or from a place of fear rather than a place of love. And I think a lot of people who are in marriages that are struggling, it’s because of that reason alone, because they went into it out of scarcity rather than from a place of the full. And that is like a big mantra that I that I talk about now to young people, I really try to discuss that with young people and say, Hey, like, you need to be happy with your life. And be happy with who you are, and have a good relationship with God before you ever think about getting married. Because if you are trying to get into marriage, now you are not. Or before you work through some of this stuff. You’re going to be going into it from a very unhealthy place when you make a lot of mistakes, because you want to marry this person who is going to be with you for the rest of your life. Like that’s a big commitment. And I think it’s beautiful. And I think people should go into that, but they also really need to think about then you think about it in a bigger context. Is this person going to be kind to me? Whenever we’re in a fight? Are they going to? How are they going to treat my children? How are they going to be like as a female? How is this person going to be a good dad for my future children? Do I see things in them that I want to see in my own child because ultimately kids are going to take parts of you and or to the other person and start reflecting that in their own life? Do you have to like take those things into consideration? I’m sorry, I’m kind of going on tangent but I’m very passionate about this


was also I hope people listening I can see the connection because for me, it might seem like a tangent, but it’s it’s not like I think, infer content number one, thank you for sharing that, too. I just so that people know both our backgrounds. I was in a long term relationship and I was engaged in the engagement didn’t work out so you know, I’m 30 previously engaged in work out you’re 28 right in your age, right? And in divorce we’re so people know we’re speaking from places of experiences, not like intellectualized stuff for us. And the all this relates back to self forgetfulness, though because like you said, you went into the relationship real ultimately primarily concerned with your own needs and getting those needs fill. It wasn’t. It was completely about the ego for me. It was you know, there’s a there’s a worshipful quality to certain relationships, especially in the codependent ones where there’s this mutual satiating of the ego and worshiping each other and building each other up and this very dangerous and it’s and it’s all motivated by the desire to put something else in that God sized hole. And when when it doesn’t provide the satisfaction or the happiness that that we thought it would, then it magnifies the issues. And I think if we it granted No one’s going to enter into a relationship like that mastering having mastered self forgetfulness, but the idea that we should at least understand that it can’t be about our need to build ourselves up or get these other things in our life. Prioritize that aren’t our conversion and that was the that was the thing that made me realize that the engagement wasn’t gonna work was that I can see at least for me, that I was prioritizing this marriage potential marriage above my conversion that my actions were dictating that I cared more about that than my conversion and making the top decision to to bend that wound of being I guess I can’t speak for her but it seems like for both of us the best thing that we could have done because I think it showed God that we were willing to take the time and reprioritize that and the thing too I think that I didn’t realize until I went through it is that if you ask if you pray to God for something good right like I want to be I maybe you don’t feel like your conversion or study or whatever it is are exciting or the most important thing in your life but you know they should be if you pray to God ardently and in asking for that and then do the things you know you should have even if maybe it’s it’s hard at first God eventually granted to you if again if you’re if you’re not then doubling back and saying well you know what, I’ve been trying this while I’m just gonna like you said get married because I don’t want to be alone or I’m going to focus more on my job because that’s why I get that’s more exciting to me that’s that’s think we all need to there’s an element in this self forgetfulness thing I think they’re all tied in self forgetfulness, surrender, learning to be content, where we need to seek first God’s kingdom in our conversion and have that live at the forefront of our minds every day. Because if we don’t like I’ve been there relationships that are built on that are not good even with good people two really good people can be together but if they’re not, if their relationship with each other is not built on that or they haven’t established that in their own lives it gets it’s going to weigh them down more than build them up.


Yeah, and what even is good people because right Are we really good inherently we’re not like we might see ourselves as like a good person but like that’s a euphemism Emily all very you know, yeah, I know I know what you meant was


like no one needs to be beating the other person or or, you know, doing doing really egregious problems where one person is severely unhealthy the other you know, I guess relative, but you can ask people who might have otherwise have maybe a decent relationship with God or at least, like there’s no real inherent conflict with you. If you each as individuals aren’t focused on the right thing. It’s gonna make that a real relationship a real burden.


Yeah. And I think too important to remember that everybody’s human and we’re never going to get to that like pinnacle of Oh, I’m going to be at this perfect time at this perfect place in my life can be no man we thought perfect person like that is a like we can strive to be at a really good place we might not ever get there. And so I think sometimes you can go on like this far another foreign ditch where you’re like, Well, I’m not going to do this until I get to this place. And then that’ll keep you from actually doing things that you want to do because then again, you kind of go back is this am I doing this out of fear? Am I doing this because I don’t want to get into a relationship and then like, you know, you’re now you made a commitment before God you’re in this like, you have to recognize that is very two very, very, very imperfect people coming together. There are always going to be issues, it doesn’t matter. Like how nice you are, it doesn’t matter how like converted you are. I know some of the most converted people out there. You know, like I have some amazing examples of men and women in my life that I just I have so much respect for and yet they still have marriage problems because they’re both very imperfect and they’re doing their best to, to grow in their spiritual life in their walk, but they still have those human flaws. And so no matter what there is going to be like it, there’s going to be hardship, you’re never going to have a perfect marriage or a perfect parent or whatever. But the thing is, you can start to play with health.


And it’s the same thing with baptism. I know a lot of young people who won’t get baptized because they’re not either good enough, or they don’t know enough. And that’s the exact opposite. Like the moment you know, this is a commitment you want to make you do it and then you get God’s Holy Spirit to help you through the process is about it’s not that it’s about not being I guess what flip it when you go into either obviously baptism or a marriage, but then having the right attitude, I think, because there’s marriages are incredibly difficult thing, relation to human relationships in general, close friends, whatever it is, those are the most difficult things we engage in. And for good reason, we know those are the things that further our conversion more than anything, which is why, like church, God, networking exists, because we’re admonished to maintain unity, we’re admonished to, we can’t divorce our individual conversions from our responsibility to each other as brethren. But that same phenomenon goes into families and marital relationships and dating relationships, that those are the, those are the intense catalysts for personal growth. And you’re right, you’re never going to go in there with the absolute perfect mentality. But I think what I, what I see in the church, and what I definitely saw in myself, was that people and I’ll speak for myself, I was seeking it out as the goal. And that shows that you’re not just content with the life that God has given you, a lot of you and the responsibilities you might be able to have to serve, or to further your conversion, you need something else. And, and that’s where it becomes problematic. I mean, people, people will use the feast to hunt for, for a spouse, or whatever it is. And at that point, you lose the focus on brethren as brethren and it starts being canned, are you going to be a potential spouse for me or not? And I don’t know, I’m sure you have similar stories, but I haven’t. It’s very disheartening when you meet someone, and you feel like there’s a friendship and you know, they’re showing interest in mutual things. And then when it becomes when you demonstrate, like, what I’m not really interested in you for that, like you never see the person again, when you demonstrate that the romance isn’t there, you’re not going to see that brother or sister in Christ again. And because the interest was based on romantic and the interesting thing, which I completely understand, emotionally, that desires that especially as you get older. But what’s actually being communicated is that this is the most important thing in my life, find into family in the spouse, and that’s the pinnacle, and I’ll be satisfied when I get there. And I just I see it, and it’s almost like when you’re watching a car wreck, and you can see it about to start man, that’s not gonna end well. Like I don’t it doesn’t matter where they end of the day if that for myself. I know. And that is that if I entered a relationship with that attitude, this the exact opposite of self forgetting was completely self focused. It all being about me and getting things in my life, it would have been a disaster.


Yeah, for sure. And I think, I think too, like growing up in the church. I don’t want to speak for everybody, but at least for me, and I think having from probably more of a perfectionist mentality when it comes to certain things like I tried so hard to check the boxes, you know what I mean? Like growing up, it was like, Okay, I’m praying today and study today, check, check, check. I’m going to go to my churches Bible school, because that’s what you’re supposed to do check. And I’m gonna date someone in the church who I feel like I can respect check, you know, like, you’re going through this, like check boxes of like, trying to get the blessings because you know what, it’s right. But is it actually changing your heart? Are you actually truly getting that conversion? Because are you doing it? Because you think it’s the right thing to do? Because you think you’re going to get some prize at the end, which is totally the opposite of self forgetfulness. It’s all about what can I get, and how am I going to get like these blessings and stuff like this? Or is it I’m doing this because I genuinely want to do this. And I’m doing this because it’s going to because it brings me joy. I know most of the time. It’s it’s pretty much From a fear base, like, if I don’t do this, then I will have bad things happen to me. And it’s a lot of fear. And I think it’s very interesting. That’s not


that’s that’s trying to turn the Christian life into a situation where karma is involved where if I think I’m going to get good things, and if I don’t, I’m going to get punished. And time and chance happened to all where you know, it says pick up your cross and follow me doesn’t say Follow me, you can leave your cross over there, it’s the the the pain of struggle, and failure, and all those things are beautiful. And we should see those through the lens of joy. delight, Scripture says count it all joy. And the the ultimate promise that I try to think of is that all things work together for good for those who are called according to God’s purpose. And if if we really believe that that’s a promise, right, that’s, that’s one of those if, you know, a God has promised, promised you, if you know that, then you know, if you go through a terrible marriage, or if you’re single for a while, or if you’re sick, or if you’re struggling financially, or whatever it is, you’re struggling with mental and emotional issues, that each one of those things, if you don’t leave that job side of the conversion, if you continue to work on it, everything works together for good, you’re not promised happiness, or in any discrete period of time. But there’s nothing more meaningful and fulfilling, then knowing that every struggle you’re going through is building the character of of Christ within you. And that’s where the self forgetfulness and the surrender come in. Because if it stops becoming about you, it starts becoming about what God’s working out in you and in mankind in general, then you just learn to trust them to say, Okay, I’m done trying to, to govern my own life. And to think that I can do it best, I’m going to let you guide this, and I’m going to not complain about this circumstance, I’m just going to accept it for what it is because I trust that if I just keep trying to do the best that I can, and coming to you and trying to strengthen that relationship that it will work, it will end up I feel best.


Yeah, absolutely. And I think I have tried to, like understand where this comes from, where the if I do this, this will happen. And if I do this, this will happen. And it’s totally not just like in the Church of God. It is I think it Christians all across the board struggle with this. I think a lot of sorry,


is sort of the prosperity gospel, this idea that you do things or you give and you get


100% and I think I was doing a little bit of digging and like, okay, where is this coming from, like scripturally I think it really comes from Proverbs, because it’s a book about wisdom where it says, if you do this good things will happen to you. If you do this blessings, you know what I mean? It’s kind of going through the basic laws of like cause and effect. But I think it’s very important that we also look at Ecclesiastes to balance that out. It’s like I feel like Ecclesiastes us in Proverbs are almost like the complete like, opposite like this. Again, it’s like, it is two sides of the same coin. It is if you do this, you will get blessed sometimes, because sometimes life happens and you don’t get what you want. And then ultimately, you have to go Okay, like I am feeling very disappointed because I didn’t get what I thought I would deserve because I did all these good things. And I was supposed to get this and yet I did it. So why is this happening? And it’s because we live in a world that is just it’s paper is here today gone tomorrow, like that is kind of that that’s this world that we live in? And yes, like, we will get blessing sometimes. But other times we’re gonna go through really tough times as well. And I personally terrified of tile like terrified with trial. You know, I was so scared of it. And then then I started going through things and I was like, okay, God, Something’s Weird here. And if I need to go through tile, just let it happen. And it’s hilarious because my mom always told me growing up, when you pray for trial, it is going to happen you buckle up, and you’d be ready because it’s, it’s gonna happen because she did that and she said, she just went through this crazy time. So it was funny because I had that ringing in my ears and I knew I knew praying for this It was going to happen. And I’m like, What are you doing Chantelle. But also, I was like, living in this world where I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t feel what it was. And it was like, most like torture is like knowing something’s not right, but not quite being able to grasp what that is. And so it was like, the alternative is better, let’s just go through a trial so I can figure out what the heck is going on. And it did like it was like, all right, you pray for it, boom, like, literally, within a couple weeks, everything, just like blew up in my face. And it was shocking, but at the same time, not. So it is very interesting now, like, I still don’t necessarily throw away trials, but I saw how much I grew, I am a completely different person now than I was before I went through those really big trials in my life. And I know that I’m the get better person for it. I like who I am, more now than who I was four or five years ago. And so for that, I’m grateful. And I don’t see trials as like, be terrified of, it’s more of a, okay, it’s just part of life. And I made it through that. So I can pretty much make it through anything.


These go get in the The other thing, too. So the the the obvious one is, if you’re if you’re doing the good things as a checklist to get something, there’s an attitude that needs adjustment there, period, right. But a lot of trials don’t necessarily come from some sort of attitude adjustment that’s needed a lot do a lot due to someone summers time and chance they used to call it a ecclesiastic summer time and chance, some are, because we did that have that mentality that needs adjustment, or we’re engaged in some sort of sinful behavior or, or unhealthy state, and other things are just to help us grow. And the thing that was interesting for me is, I don’t know when this happened, or why but the way you mentioned prayer, the way I started praying for things became different. Not only praying, asking for things, but also if I was in the midst of a struggle, the way it brought about that became different, because what I realized is all it takes a few of these to have this thinking, but after going through a few really huge life struggles and lessons and failures and coming out the other side and realize those are the things that that change you and in forward your conversion, like nothing else, it goes to the most intense periods of growth, like you were saying. And so now when the next one comes along, and I start praying for it to end, like, Please take this trial from me, or please remove whatever it is, please help me to fix it. Whatever phrase you use, when you pray to God, what I realized is what I could effectively be telling God is that I want you to stop working with me, I want you to stop facilitating my growth, and changing my nature into that your son, like I want, I don’t like it. I don’t like the fact that you’re making me grow. And I want you to stop. And what you’re asking is for the biggest blessing any human being could possibly have in his life to go away because you want less pain, or you want something or whatever it is. And it’s those are the things that are at the core of who we are that need to be addressed. To me. That’s what conversion is, of course, there’s obedience involved. There’s, you know, keeping the holy days and obeying the commandments and things like that. But there’s a deeper seated unhealthiness in and misalignment with God and Christ nature that needs to be fixed and adjusted. And these are the things that we need to work I mean, the the phrase that for some reason, since I was six or seven that has always stood out to me and really best route in my head is take every thought into captivity. And the idea that we don’t take anything we do at face value. But we turn all that cannot you can’t just trust your mentality. You can’t assume that you’re going into a marriage with the right intention or that you’re praying the right way. We’re vastly more complicated than that. We carry so much baggage. We can’t just trust we have the right attitude or the right evaluation, which is a nice sort of full circle back into self forgetfulness. The idea that you can trust your own self evaluation sort of ridiculous there’s way too much garbage going on


there. Yeah, absolutely. I think kind of going back to the Scripture. It is very interesting because in verse three and four it where he says basically I care a little if you judge To me, or if any human court judges me, and then going back to, but also I don’t care how I judge me, that’s just like, that is so fascinating to me. Because I think for most of us, our skin, or like, the things that we do is very much wrapped up into our identity. We’re constantly looking for, like a verdict of, are we good enough? Or are we measuring up? Or am I, you know, am I living up to my parents expectations? Or am I living up to the expectations that God has on me even though like, ultimately, oftentimes, we put, we decide what God has decided? Because we actually decided no, it’s it’s very convoluted instead of actually, like, looking at scripture, we tell us, God wouldn’t be proud of me if I don’t do this, and this and this. And usually, it’s because we wouldn’t be proud of ourselves. So we’re putting, like, we’re, we’re totally projecting our, our own expectations of ourselves onto God, which can be very, very unhealthy. And so I think the thought process of unwinding and unwrapping our identity with the things that we do is a such a huge thing. Like, it is so easy to just be like, Oh, man, I did this bad thing. So that means I am bad or evil, or this and that or the other. And it means something like really big about me that I have this huge character flaw, and I’m just horrible. And then you start kind of going through that, like self loathing cycle, which is so unhealthy. But if you just stopped that and went, Okay, yep, I messed up. But that doesn’t mean I’m an evil bad person, it means that I messed up in the human, and that I can take stop, recognize, repent, change, and move forward in a different direction. Instead of just like getting stuck in that. Like, if I did this, or that person, bla bla bla, and that’s what Paul’s talking about here. He’s saying, like, I don’t do that. I, I, he literally says, I am the worst. I am the Chief of all senators. Yeah, I was going to go there yet. Which is so interesting. It’s like, I am the Chief of all senators, I know that I’m the worst of the worst, but I don’t judge myself. That’s God’s job. So I’m not going to like play that game. I’m not going to play I’m not going to put myself in the judgment seat because I am not the judge. And what a concept you know, like what it was huge concept that is, and I just think it’s so interesting, because he it’s like, he doesn’t let his sin destroy his identity, ultimately.


And that is huge. That is huge. And it’s so difficult to get to that place. Um, but it’s very important, very important, because when our identity is or when or thin is linked to our identity, then it just becomes like this pain cycle. And, like, I can attest to the fact that you know, how earlier you you basically said, like, there’s spectrum, you know, there’s the narcissism, and then there’s the self loathing. And for most of my life, I probably would have thought like I was on more I would probably say more. I don’t know, narcissistic, but more like the, my inner talk would be like Chantelle You got this. You look great today, like just random, like, read more like pep talk kind of stuff. But last year, I went through a horrible, horrible concussion had two concussions, where my brain was a hot mess, like I was not functional. And I got to a point where I was so down that I hated myself. I wanted to die. I and I was just I don’t want to be here anymore. You know, it was very much like I hate myself. I don’t you know, it was just like, what’s wrong with me I can’t do anything that I usually would do to kind of like boost that self esteem because I was pretty much a vegetable at that point. Like I couldn’t remember how to cook because it messed with my brain so much, that it was like all of those things that that would toughen me up. I didn’t have access to that anymore. So I was just like, brought to the very bottom of the barrel and I I access this part of me that I didn’t even know existed in my styles, this self loathing, this hatred of myself, that I couldn’t be the person that I thought I was supposed to be because I wasn’t able to function at the capacity that I thought I had to be in order to be loved, or in order to get my needs met. And it was horrible, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, because it was very, very painful. But to be honest, I learned the people in my life who really truly loved me who loves me unconditionally, the people that stayed in my life, and that took care of me during that time, and who, even though I didn’t, wasn’t doing any assistance that I thought I was supposed to do to earn love or to get my needs met, they still love me no matter what, like my parents, and my closest friends, they were there for beside me the whole time. And they helped me realize, like, I don’t need to be something for them to love me, I’m just exist, I am alive. And therefore, I can get love, because that’s how God made us. And we’re supposed to just we are inherently worthy of those things, because we exist. And that is such a huge thing for me, because it helps me really, once I start getting into that spiral of like, oh, that I need to do this, have you just knew this, I can kind of step back and go, You know what? I don’t like I can, but I don’t have to. It’s not like out of desperation that I have to do these things, it should be because I want to do them. And I think it’s really important to remember that difference of doing it from desperation, or doing it because it brings me joy. It’s really sometimes hard to figure out which which one I’m into, sometimes they can look almost identical, if you’re not really in touch with what’s going on in your


world. And that’s the key, I think, to relating it back to to Paul is that, you know, are the only identity we should have is we’re a baptized member of the church. We’re a member, potential member of God’s family, the bride of Christ, and all this other stuff. I mean, you take, you know, not only First Timothy, as you alluded to, that, Paul identifies himself is the center of home Iam Chief, Romans, Romans seven talks about the things he knows you shouldn’t do. He does the things he doesn’t. He knows he, sorry, the things he knows he shouldn’t do, he does and things he knows he should do. He doesn’t. And all those in connection with knowing that it’s God who judges him that his opinion of himself that other people’s opinions of him don’t matter, because God is the only one who’s the accurate judge, and only one who ultimately is going to make those judgments. It’s speaking to a person who has sufficiently learn how to be content to forget, forget himself that he knows, as it says, that I am not thereby acquitted. He knows you know, Romans seven, First Corinthians four, four, that he’s not innocent with that he also understands what it says that no, when God looks at him, he sees the righteousness of Christ, we fall short, he washes his feet, he repents, and that’s it, he does, he’s not steeped in the sin. That’s the whole point. So again, part of that equation, part of self forgetfulness and all these things is studying enough to know what God has promised and what he has in right karma is not something he’s promised, they’re having a good gauge of what to expect and what not to, but then knowing what’s important, knowing that you don’t have to your identity shouldn’t be built up in those things. Because if you if you are struggling, if you have a hard time as I do it sure you do, most people do put it when we make a mistake, putting it off and just taking that Paul approach. As God who judges me I know that was a mistake. I’m moving forward when you’re speaking it when you allow yourself to get Steve than it is because you feel that identity that you’ve created for yourself being threatened. Well, I’m not a good person, or I’m not this or the way my wife or my girlfriend or my friends see me is going to be affected if they knew I did this thing, or I just treated someone else for ugly now their impression to me is going to be a certain way. If it was just about the fact that you know what you did was wrong and you repent and you move forward, and you wouldn’t care about how it made you look, or the other person is, Hey, I recognize that’s wrong and I’m gonna move forward. But we get into these destructive patterns. Because I think we think because it’s a very worldly religious view that we use something wrong. There’s this penance that’s involved. You have to like be yourself and with yourself in order to get back in your good graces. And that’s Not, it’s not what Scripture says. This stuff is all I guess to conclude this stuff is all incredibly nuanced and complicated. And that’s one of I think the beautiful things about Paul’s writings in Scripture. You can take any one of them and weave First Corinthians First Timothy, Romans seven, they’re all things you could do podcasts In alone, just analyzing those sections of Scripture that the depth of the human experience that is conveyed by these things. And for sulfur nationalist, I encourage people to go into first Grampians three and four and read that and see what Scripture says about this idea that hey, you should just try to think about yourself less, which involves forgetting, truly forgetting those bad things you did and moving forward, but also not thinking that you need something else outside of God in your conversion to establish your identity. I think we’d all be freer and more content as a result.


Absolutely could not, could not agree more. I know I will be working on that probably for the rest of my life.


That’s the only thing that this is a process and it’s a process until you die. You don’t die perfect. So well, thanks, Chantelle. Appreciate the time today. Thanks for recommending book. They had an impact on me. Hopefully everyone else got some value from the discussion today as well. Thank you.

About the Author

Daniel Russo is a lifelong New Yorker and currently resides in Albany, New York. He currently works as the Manager of Business Operations at Parent to Parent of NYS. He previously worked at the Empire