My Experiment in Becoming Human


Give and You Will Receive

Knowing and doing aren’t the same thing. In my last Experiment in Becoming Human, I wrote about ceasing to try and get something from others, and being set free to give. “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength,” God’s promise told me, His love was all I needed. But living out that promise is another thing.

So once again I prayed. God’s silent-but-certain voice answered, “You’ve been focused on the what. Now focus on the how.”

Over and over again, Jesus tells us to give others the thing we want. It’s a paradox (to us, not to God). And yet, strangely (to us, not to God), the only thing we really have to give to others is the thing we want. The core thing, that is, not “I want a Philly cheesesteak, so I’ll give you one,” but the thing we really want.

And the thing I really want from others (I’m embarrassed to admit) is their attention, to be appreciated and understood, which tells me I’m accepted and loved. And therein lies the challenge, the how. Jesus tells us to think in reverse. We think, “If they earn my attention, I’ll give it to them.” But Jesus says, “No, give it first.” We think, “If they stop being my enemy, I’ll love them.” But Jesus says, “No, love them first.” Not only does He insist on this, He tells us it’s the essence of Life with a capital L, the thing that is so desperately missing in our world.

The first time I ever tried to ski, the instructor told me to lean forward. But every nerve in my body told me to lean backward. So I leaned backward, and again and again I fell backward. Still, I thought, “Once I’m a skier I’ll be able to do it.” “No,” the instructor said, “do it and then you’ll be a skier.”

So my new how, my challenge, when every nerve in my body is telling me to to lean backward and make others listen to me, is to lean forward and listen to them. 

There’s a famous two-part illustration which you may have heard, but it bears repeating: In the first part, a vision of hell, people are sitting around a lavish banquet table with spoons attached to their hands. But while their spoons can reach the food, the spoons are too long to reach their mouths. In the second vision, a vision of heaven, the same scene appears, paradoxically. Only this time, the diners have learned…

To feed each other.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and still running over, will be poured out into your lap. For the measure you give is the measure you will receive.”

~Luke 6:38

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to My Experiment in Becoming Human

  1. Clever Girl says:

    O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
    To be understood, as to understand;
    To be loved, as to love.
    For it is in giving that we receive;
    It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
    And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

    Liked by 8 people

  2. Dear Mitch

    I found your blog today. You are a man after God’s own heart. I have never been interested in formal religion, and have followed Jesus imperfectly for much of my 60 years.

    As you will know, He said I have come that you may have life and have it to the full, and yet we have tried to contain him to buildings and statues and ceremonies. Jesus loves the outdoor life best (and that’s good for vitamin D!) and ultimately he said that the main thing is to love God with all you have and to love your neighbour as yourself – and if you don’t love yourself, how will you love your neighbour?

    I have managed to look at a few of your posts which are inspiring and insightful. And thank you for the humour. Jesus was much funnier than we imagine, and the Father is just bonkers – He loves playing with words! If He didn’t we wouldn’t enjoy it so much.

    You have been blogging for some time i see whereas I only started this year. You might find something useful and hopefully funny on my site (I find it hard not to have some humour somewhere in a post or page).

    Thank you for all you have said, I hope to come back and look more sometime. So much to do and an eternity to do it in, so I think I’ve got time, don’t you?


    Baldmichael Theresoluteprotector’sson

    Liked by 2 people

  3. China Dream says:

    excellent -thought proviking.. thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nancy Ruegg says:

    That illustration about the spoons is well worth reviewing. I need the reminding too!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Thank you so much for sharing! This is exactly what I needed to hear today! I love the meal illustration – so simple but so profound. Also, when I reflect, I suspect what I REALLY want from others are the exact things you listed for yourself. Maybe in some deep way it is true for us all. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I love the spoon analogy.
    I may start out sounding like the devil’s advocate, but I’m thinking about the concept of “love languages,” the idea that different people look for different thing to express love. For example, I knew a man whose love language was gifts, so he was always bringing his wife little gifts, while her love language was acts of service – like helping her clean up the house, which was hopelessly cluttered up with all the stuff he kept giving her!
    So maybe giving the other person what we want ourselves should be first knowing their love language and being able to speak that language instead of what WE want to speak. I guess that’s working to understand instead of being understood…? Just a thought.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      I agree, Annie. Knowing another person’s love language is a real plus. Although I do think we can practice giving attention to people whose love language we don’t know. My wife has a different language than me, and I’m grateful to know what it is. But the same core need for attention is there.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This made me think of another oft used quote: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I’m glad I found you Mitch; a decent blog is not all that easy to find! Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hetty Eliot says:

    So much gold here. We have to try to see others with the eyes Jesus, to ask what is it that they yearn for? I like the heaven/hell image a lot too.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Pingback: Vitamin B1 | See, there's this thing called biology...

  10. I wish there was a “love” button. I more than like this—I love this! It so resonates with me. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. geoaffleck says:

    Love for a child shows up, all on its own, in a mother’s heart, with the baby. She gives and gives, because she can do nothing less, and the seed of love that has been also planted in the child’s heart grows over time as it is filled up with their mother’s love.
    All loves are this way if we only dare to share and live to give.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Beck says:

    Feed each other… that’s precious.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. numrhood says:

    luke 6:36 & 6:38

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ann Coleman says:

    Wise words, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Kudos to the ski instructor.  (Did U ever learn to ski?)  And yet another cheer for the long spoons parable, which was new to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. As always, love your writings… Really triggers food for thought every single time, keeps my mind occupied for a good few hours…
    The words “going against the grain” came up as I read this… Things dont always workout as we think it should, however, do we take action and steps as we think we should? Or do we listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance… “Do it, then you will become a skier.”

    Liked by 1 person

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