And then, he taught me how to play strategy games.
I must confess, at first, I just didn't get it. I did not understand the benefits of staring at a board, or the computer screen, for hours upon hours. What were we accomplishing? How was this useful? What am I getting out of this? Did he not know that our dates were about me and revolved around my interests and for my benefit?
I disdain useless things and I have an irrational fear of being useless. Thinking about it makes my throat close and I can't breath. When I was pregnant, I couldn't stand my closet. I wanted to purge everything because nothing, not even the stretchy things, would fit. But Hans wisely told me to hold off on giving everything away, at least until the baby arrives.
I am my own idol. Even during some of my finer moments of serving others and keeping spiritual disciplines, I can be very concerned about myself and what's in it for me. Meditating on Mary's love for Jesus has been good for my soul.
Mary, and how she sat at Jesus' feet, listening to every word, watching every gesture, beholding every expression. Mary, and how she fell at his feet, weeping. How she broke and poured her alabaster jar of pure nard, on Jesus' feet. How she wiped Jesus' feet with her hair.
Mary's love for Jesus was so indiscreet, and even immodest. Hers was a love that was self-forgetting. She broke decorum and abandoned respectability. She used the crown of her head to wipe the dirt beneath his feet. Her worship of Jesus made people uncomfortable.
Mary placed herself at his feet. This is a pattern in Mary's relationship to Jesus. She was always at his feet. This was not a mutual exchange, not an equal give and take. This was not Mary helping Jesus out. This was worship.
Martha welcomed, served, and helped. Judas was an advocate for the poor. Mary did nothing useful of that sort. Yet, Jesus commended her, defended her. He called her sacrifice beautiful. Jesus was not saying hospitality was bad or feeding the poor was bad, but Jesus was distinguishing these works from Mary's worship. Unlike the others, Mary saw Jesus properly, so she responded properly — with homage and devotion.
Love takes us beyond ourselves. Of course, love can be helpful and practical, like receiving socks on Christmas morning. In fact, I love receiving socks for Christmas. But love can and should also be extravagant and unreasonable and sacrificial. For some birthdays, Hans would give me useful and practical gifts like my dutch oven and my chef's knife. For other birthdays, and especially for my non-birthdays, he would give me outrageous things, like a polka dot skirt. In the winter. He is a lovely man.
I am look forward to spring.
The only thing I bring to my salvation is my sin. Christ took my sin and death upon the cross, and in exchange, he gave me new life — with him. Therefore, I need to quit asking, "Am I being used by God?" Because, frankly, I am of no use to him at all.
The Father is looking for worshipers, like Mary, who are not the least bit concerned about themselves and what is in it for them. Because Mary surrendered herself, Jesus says her story would be told wherever the Gospel is proclaimed.
Consider this final passage by Howard Guinness in his book Sacrifice:
Where are the young men and women of this generation who will hold their lives cheap and be faithful even unto death? Where are those who will lose their lives for Christ’s sake, flinging them away for love of him? Where are those who will live dangerously and be reckless in his service? Where are his lovers, those who love him and the souls of men more than their own reputations or comfort or very life?
Nearly eight years later, Hans made a convert out of me. I love strategy games. It's a lot more fun now that I know what is in it for me.
A lot of wins.
Ha. Just kidding.