Have you noticed that you can be motivated by one of two things: fear or love? Do you know the difference in your life? You can experience every moment of your day as a perfectionist or you can choose to pursue excellence. What a difference your motivation will make this Christmas season both to you and to those who love you.
When watching a person who is motivated by fear and a person motivated by love the results on the surface might look extremely similar. The eye could not tell.
I may be a Marriage and Family therapist by profession but one of my loves is entertaining family and friends. If you were to visit my home and to see the table I have set up to welcome those I love, you could not tell whether I did it with a spirit of joy and love or whether I did it because I was afraid of your disapproval if the table wasn’t just so. I would know and my family would know but you might not know. Either I would be driven by anxiety irritable to those in the vicinity or I would be equally busy yet anticipating relationship, warm conversation and even perhaps living past memories of times shared. What is the difference? The woman driven by fear is trying to earn love and the one anticipating relationship knows she is loved and desires to let that love pass through her.
I would like to share a true story with you. Years ago I heard a Ted Talk by Benjamin Zander who was a past conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and also a professor at the New England Conservatory of Music. I was mesmerized by the warmth and enthusiasm of his personality. Then I read something about his most unusual grading approach for his students.
He gave each of these highly talented and gifted graduate students an “A” for the course if in the first two weeks of class they would write him a letter that begins like this.
Dear Professor Zander,
I got my “A” because…
Using as much detail as possible, they must spin a story of what happened to them during the class that is in keeping with the extraordinary grade. They must place themselves in the future looking back. They are to report on their acquired insights and their attained milestones. What Dr. Zander is most interested in is who this person has become by the end of the semester. He wants them to report their attitudes, feelings and worldview. His words were,” This “A” is not an expectation to live up to but a possibility to live into.”
His hope is that each student will fall passionately in love with their music when they no longer have to worry about their grade. One of Dr. Zander’s students wrote him this letter. I am just sharing a portion of it with you.
Dear Dr. Zander,
I got my A because I had the courage to examine my fears and I realized that they have no place in my life. I changed from someone who was scared to make a mistake in case she was noticed to someone who knows she has a contribution to make to other people personally and musically…Thus, all diffidence and lack of belief in myself are gone. So too is the belief that I only exist as a reflection in other people’s eyes and the resulting desire to please everyone…I understand that trying and achieving are the same thing when you are your own master-and I am.
I have found a desire to convey music to other people, which is much stronger than the worries I had about myself. I have changed from desiring inconsequentiality and anonymity to accepting the joy that comes from knowing that my music changes the world.”
When I first heard of this amazing grading system, I was struck with a transformative insight. This is what Jesus Christ offers to each one of us. He shows us our value, how deeply we are loved and in that way gives each of his children an A. Then he waits to see what each of us dares to do and who we choose to become as a result of operating out of a loved place.
What if this Christmas you had nothing to fear because of how deeply you knew that you are loved? What if everything you did and said was motivated by love? How would your Christmas be different?
Perhaps the word “should” might be dropped from your vocabulary and replaced with “choose.”
Perhaps Christmas would be more about relationship and less about impressing.
Perhaps you would find some quiet time just for you.
Perhaps I would remove my masks and choose to be vulnerable with those that I love.
Perhaps you would make a budget and stick with it.
Perhaps you might turn down a few invitations in order to create some couple time together.
Perhaps when snapped at you would become curious rather than furious.
Perhaps you would allow yourself to get into bed at a reasonable time.
Perhaps the little moments might take on greater significance.
Perhaps you would take time to meditate on the God who has through His Birth, death and resurrection given you an “A” for life.
Until our next Conscious Lover’s Blog…