Rich Paxson

In the Discussion Forum of this unit, answer the following question: How might your story or style of self-presentation be changing as you find yourself needing to be less good as a consequence of being loved?
The wrap-up question for Part 3 points to individual discovery in response to the Other other’s revelation of God’s faithful love. As I discover the Other other’s ongoing revelation of God’s love for me personally, then I will find “myself needing to be less good” and my “story or style of self-presentation” changing. The discussion question asks how that change might take form and substance in the story or style of my life. Here’s one brief example.

Yesterday I spoke to our parish rector about an issue I found troubling, which concerned asbestos tile removal from our chapel. I was open and relaxed. I wasn’t tight or combative; and yet I was confronting. We argued the issue for some time, and then suddenly I heard him agreeing with my position. I felt satisfied, but it was not the satisfaction of having vanquished a foe. It was the satisfaction of having made the case for the safety of parishioners during the removal process.

As a consequence of being loved by the Other other I could focus my skills on the needs of others dropping my need for looking good in the eyes of my opponent, an obsequious response denying both my identity and the welfare of those for whom on that issue I was responsible.

Altered behavior like the example I just described, however, can be the thin end of the wedge. Change that is too dramatic violates the other person’s expectations about my pattern for interacting. Consequently change that is too sudden or too broad threatens others who know me and may feel cornered by my changes causing them to challenge me from a defensive posture.

Therefore, it is crucial that I consistently interrogate my motives for selfish desires. Responding regularly to the other person by listening carefully and listening reflectively not just to what they are saying but also to how they are communicating helps to shift my focus from me and my needs to the other person and her needs.