Learning the discernment of self-sacrifice, loss and pride

Ear­li­er today I post­ed an excerpt of an inter­est­ing arti­cle on Anabap­tism on my Tum­blr blog and it’s engen­dered quite a con­ver­sa­tion on Face­book about tes­ti­monies and emp­ty forms, etc. It’s true that any form of spir­i­tu­al dis­ci­pline can get twist­ed into look-at-me hero­ism or lets-talk-anything-but-God group conformity. 

The answer isn’t to give up tes­ti­monies or to hold onto them even tighter, but instead to con­stant­ly remind our­selves about their pur­pose: to learn how to live as an atten­tive peo­ple of God. Here’s what I wrote on Facebook:

I’ve been a most­ly bicycle-riding veg­an for decades, an outspoken
paci­fist and a fre­quent plain dress­er. All of these prac­tices have
aid­ed my spir­i­tu­al growth but also have unearthed new sources of pride
for me to wres­tle with. The self-examination has been prac­tice in
discernment. 

I often think back to the sto­ry of the Good Samar­i­tan. What mat­tered
wasn’t how he was dressed or whether he was rid­ing a bicy­cle. No, what
mat­tered is that he knew enough to know he was being called to
sac­ri­fice some­thing: to get cov­ered in a strangers blood, to aid
some­one who might resent him for it, to lose mon­ey he had earned to put
some­one up for the night. Maybe he had prac­ticed this dis­cern­ment of
self-sacrifice by liv­ing a tes­ti­mo­ny that had chal­lenged him to
nav­i­gate between loss and pride, and maybe he had been brought up in a
com­mu­ni­ty where the val­ue of love was prized above all. The important
thing is he knew to stop and be a true neighbor.