Sometimes I think that life is just a compilation of mystery and paradoxical concepts. Lately I think I have been so confused and frustrated with it, that I have simply stopped thinking about it. That is the worst thing I could have done though. God gave us a mind and we are meant to use it because this beautiful world has so much to teach us, if we just let it. But that will require us to be molded and that means apply ourselves.

With as much as I have been working over in Africa, I am perplexed at how I have shut down to so many convictions I used to have. I remember blogging about how nervous I was to go that last time and that it was so hard going and then coming back to the West, with so much money and luxury. This last time was different. I think I just shut down and turned off regarding that. What is right and how much I should feel, I am not sure.

Working there though, I have learned one thing about SERVICE. I used to think that my motivations for serving and working in Africa were completely altruistic and that I was just such a wonderful guy for doing that. You know, the whole Hero stigma that is associated with those that “lay down” their lives to work in Africa. Well I don’t think that anymore. From Pastors, to missionaries, to social workers – we are all in the same situation. Sure, why we do what we do is what gives us a sense of purpose and fulfillment. I am not arguing that it is not a good thing, because it is. Everyone should have that and HAS TO find purpose in life. The problem is that we develop this Christian complex where we think we are so great for our service and dedication to society. You know what though, how much of it is based and founded out of our need to find acceptance and self gratification? Cause lets be honest, it feels good to feed the homeless and to work with the children in Africa. The paradox is that this is not inherently bad, it is just what we do with it and that we recognize the intrinsic danger of developing our “projects” as just “commodities”. Why do we serve and do what we do? To answer that question and simply be aware of its answer, is key to finding the motivations and lining them up with the call of Christ.

From many of my past dating relationships, friendships, to now working with a not-for-profit in Africa, I am learning how much of my caring motives and love are wrapped in finding acceptance. We all fear rejection, it is the basic and highest form of being human – to be accepted. So much of everything we do is to find acceptance. In my walk with God, how many of the deed/works I do are rooted out of my striving for approval from God? In a relationship, how many of the sweet things I do are to find approval and love? In friendships, those times we go out of our way for the other person, what sense of acceptance do we get when they love us for that? We don’t want to be rejected, we desire love and will almost do anything to get it.

For others, this need for acceptance swings to the other side of the spectrum. Out of our fear of rejection, we don’t give of ourselves – as our motivation keeps us from others. “If I opened up and loved, what if they don’t accept me and love me back – leading to rejection?” Therefore we don’t serve, we don’t love and we find our acceptance by not getting rejected. I remember when I first got to Masters Commission. It was only for 9 months, why would I open up and become close friends with anyone there, knowing that in 9 months we would all go different ways and get hurt through the whole process? Working in the orphanage, it is vulnerability that brings love, because what if the next time coming back they don’t remember you?

That is the paradox. But, both are rooted in our intrinsic desire to be loved and accepted.

That is the story of life though. So what is the answer? Hell if I know. But I still stand behind that fact that we cant fear rejection. I look at working in Africa, rejection is a high possibility. Relationships – you will be let down and hurt. Family – they wont always come through for you. Even God – how many times was he not there for you like you expected?

The issue boils down to the fact that we need to recognize our need for acceptance and love and that is the motivation for much of what we do. If we realize that is our motivation, I think it takes some of the sting out of the hurt.

Life is full of pain in our search for acceptance in all we do. But it is our perspective on it that will determine if we continue to love and serve or if we shut down and make the inner vow that we will never do that again.