Enchanting Selflessness

For The High Calling book club:
Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions
by Guy Kawasaki
Laura Boggess leads our May 9 discussion here.

I am not who I was. I remember when I was perfectly happy working in a dark lab all day with minimal human contact. Sometimes I would eat lunch at odd hours so that the lunch room would be empty. Later, when our first child was an infant, I turned down invitations to progressive dinners and cookie exchanges, content instead to sit with my baby and his fridge-magnet letters or turn page after page of The Count of Monte Cristo (unabridged, of course). In conversation, I told nothing about what was deep in myself.

Then came 2004. Something happened during that last pregnancy, a one-eighty shift in my emotional makeup. It wasn’t just a pregnancy thing; the change was permanent. I became what I called “the new me.”

I wanted girlfriends. I wanted relationships. In conversation, instead of holding back behind a black wall, I quickly opened up to others, revealing my deep feelings and thoughts.

I’m not sure if it really was a “new me,” or simply a me that was already there but denied all along.

Whatever it was, the change was intense, almost fierce. I wanted friends and went after them hard. In particular, I sought out older women to be a spiritual mentors.

It didn’t always work out. One was diagnosed with cancer shortly after we agreed to meet together. Another, after about a year of what I considered the closest female friendship I ever had so far, made an abrupt, unexplained, clean break. And those are just two examples.

I knew from the Bible itself that this kind of relationship was a good thing, so I wondered again and again, for years, Lord, why won’t You give me this kind of relationship?

It took several years before I realized that what I wanted, I wanted selfishly. Who is an older woman that can help me? Who is a friend that can bless me? Who will be that soul-companion and mentor for me? (I knew that, too, from the Bible: I ask and do not receive because I ask with the wrong motives.)

This help came from God:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

(Hebrews 13:17)

The relationships I was seeking should have mutual benefit. Their benefit: “let them do this with joy. My benefit: “they keep watch over your souls.” And if they don’t benefit, neither will I (“for this will be unprofitable for you”).

This sounds a lot like what Guy Kawasaki calls “enchantment”:

When you enchant people, your goal is not to make money from them or to get them to do what you want, but to fill them with great delight.

– Guy Kawasaki, Enchantment, page 2.

I was going about friendship all wrong. I had in mind only how I would benefit. But making friends is about mutual blessing.

Enchantment is not about getting your way solely for your own benefit. To the contrary, if you want enchantment to last, other people must benefit, too.

– Kawasaki, page 4.

I now have a standard prayer regarding relationships. I pray it whenever I’m about to have a coffee date or a phone call with a friend. I pray it for those who are dear to me. By God’s grace, I pray it with them (not me) in mind. The prayer is this:

Father, how can I be a better friend to ____? Father, how can I be a blessing to ____?

Sometimes, the answer is: step back. And I have to surrender to His will and accept that.

But, guess what? Turns out, when I approach friendships selflessly, the blessing on both ends is greater. It works. Selfless friendship is enchanting.

2 thoughts on “Enchanting Selflessness

  1. This post is enchanting :). I learned it the hard way too, Monica–blessing others will usually end up blessing me too. I don’t know why, but after that second child, I went through a lot of growing pains too. Thankful to be able to look back now and see the good that came out of it. Still working on being enchanting, though. I love how Guy Kawasaki weaves the “do unto others” principle into this best seller. Pretty cool, huh?

  2. It’s a great insight — take the focus from “me” — turn it to others — and then watch God meet your needs in the process.

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