Yesterday we had a very good time at the chinese food cafe in another town. 100 days ago yesterday a son was born to the owners of the restaurant and so a special celebration was held for all the regular customers to attend. The 100 day celebration is held as a "good luck" party, a way to say that the baby has survived the first 100 days so may he have health and prosperity to last 100 years.
The parents cooked up a huge buffet of food and spent most of their evening serving all the guests. Most of the town was there I think. It was crowded with one happy bunch of folk who were certainly enjoying the free meal. It was the kind of event where rural populations shine. The walls were down, the social groups blended well, there was joy and conversation between people who don't normally spend any time together.
Grandma is here from China for a few months, and of course has complete charge of wee Chee (Billy). She brought him out for viewings several times in the course of the evening, whisking him past each table so quickly we barely caught a glimpse of the tiny guest of honour. When some of the guests started to rush toward him for a better look, Grandma tucked him partially behind her back with one hand while putting the other up in front of her like stop sign, and hollering, "NO! NO! NO!!" Chee got a great kick out of this routine and giggled and smiled as Grandma slung him about like a sack of potatoes in her attempts to keep him from being charged at. It was like watching a celebrity bodyguard warding off the paparazzi. In fact I think celebrities could learn a thing or two from Grandma!
I was a bit shocked at the number of guests who turned out to take advantage of the free meal but who brought nary a gift for the young man. I don't understand that sort of thing, but it isn't any of my business I suppose. Just saying......could be another of the cultural differences I am trying still to understand.
One of the most hilarious occurrences was when the older sisters of wee Chee arrived in the dining room with their gaggle of girlfriends from school. The balloon bouquets weighted to the floor around the gift table were the targets of great and noisy wrangling. The visiting girls wanted to take them and pull them apart so they could each have a balloon. Billy's sisters were determined they would do no such thing. There was a lot of grabbing of the balloon strings, a lot of tugging back and forth, and a fair amount of name calling. Mama raced in temporarily to convince the girls to put the bouquets down again and stop arguing, but as soon as her back was turned it all began again. About the time the hair pulling started, one of the local school teachers tried to go to the rescue. She got the girls to drop the bouquets to have their photo taken. Once again, the peace lasted as long as it took her cell phone to snap the picture. Then it got pretty ugly for a few moments until Mama capitulated and cut one of the bouquets apart to distribute the balloons. Of course, human nature being what it is, as soon as each girl achieved her goal of having her own personal balloon, the interest waned and the balloons were tossed aside seconds later to be ignored for the rest of the evening.
Isn't that typical of people everywhere? We dress up in our pink frilly dresses and patent leather shoes in order to impress, then we blow it by engaging in some kind of knock-down-drag-'em-out fight with each other over some completely unimportant thing or issue, just to gain "possession" of some kind: possession of an item we wouldn't have had any interest in if someone else hadn't wanted it, possession of the only correct answer, possession of the right to be right. Oh, it never ends.
You can dress us up on the outside but eventually the rot on the inside seeps out to betray who we really are. We are all hiding a certain amount of interior rot. So we shouldn't be freaked out when sometimes it shows in ourselves or others. We are humans. We are selfish. We are self-absorbed. It is all about ourselves.
I am relieved that God can see past the rot to the creation he loves; can help us deal with some of the rot as we turn ourselves and our behaviour over to his loving care. So relieved for myself that I don't have to worry about my self esteem or self actualization or whatever other "self" buzzword and direction is the new flavour of the week. To follow Jesus I get to learn about dying to self and about Jesus attempting to live through me. It is quite a relief even though it is a life long process that stalls out on occasion when my self doesn't want to get out of the way.
Don't you ever just get sick of yourself? I do. Living for me, me, me is incredibly stressful. Not getting what I think I deserve tears me apart if myself is my main focus. Protecting my self from the condemnation or even simple criticism from others can be all consuming. When all I have is my self then every slight, every misunderstanding with other "selfs" creates far more anger, drama and tension than I need to have to deal with. Striving constantly to get what my own self, in my own opinion deserves, drains my energy and leaves me frustrated and paranoid....depressed and edgy. Constantly having to protect, promote, and pacify my self is utterly exhausting!
Now that I know Jesus better I have to admit I am happy to discover that my life is not actually all about me. Whew, what a relief!!