I'm still pondering why people and relationships cannot and should not function on the capitalistic laws of supply and demand... and I had a small (and ongoing) epiphany: the other side to viewing people as consumer products is that it of necessity predicates that we view ourselves the same way. If we see others for what they can offer us, then surely we are valued only for what we can offer them. Intellectually, I know Jesus broke down the walls to this errant way of seeing things, this impossible cycle of earned love. But in my heart I still don't believe it.
I so desperately want to earn someone's love - for them to see my "credentials" - the people that I know, those that love me, the good works that I have done and that I do; I want them to see the sacrifices that I've made... I want their pity, their admiration, their respect - their unconditional love based on what I have done.
The only flaw in this all-too pervasive approach to relating is that if love can be earned, it can also be un-earned... so we are always caught up in the tension of trying not to fall from grace, of putting our best foot forward, and of trying to repress who we really are, what we really feel so as not to lose our so arduously gained grace.
Again, the unavoidable truth is that we view others through the lenses with which we also view ourselves. The one who condemns most viciously is indeed most likely feeling the danger and imminence of condemnation. The manipulator is forever fearing and guarding against being manipulated. ... To the pure, all things are pure.
So - how to take off all the disguises and masks, and discard the intentions of the efforts? Integrity in being and doing, no hypocrisy - no walking around needing to look like someone that we're not? Save me, Jesus from this body of sin and death... because I can feel the death working in me as I try and try to do the impossible - to merit un-earnable grace.