One day a politician was invited to address a major gathering of the American Indian Nations. The politician spoke for almost an hour on his ideas and policies, and especially what he would do to for Native Americans. At the conclusion of his speech, the tribes presented the politician with a plaque inscribed with his new Indian name: Walking Eagle. He left, proudly holding the plaque in the air and waving to the press pool. After he was gone, a news reporter later asked the chiefs how they came to select the new name given to the politician. They explained that Walking Eagle is the name given to a bird so full of malarkey, it can no longer fly.
Seeking the approval of other people is truly part of our human nature. We don’t want to let other people down, make them mad at us, or let them think that we’re not capable in some way. How much energy do we spend on a daily basis trying to make other people happy with us? How hard do we try to make ourselves happy with ourselves? How many times a day do we grit our teeth and put on a plastic smile, then do or say something that we don’t want to do or don’t believe in, just to win the approval of someone else? For just about everyone, the answer is: “More than I can count.” We all do it to some degree or another. We all have times where we sacrifice what we believe and know to be right for the approval of someone else. But when you think about these times, even after you have that other person’s approval, do you feel filled inside? Or do you feel empty?
As the saying goes, nature abhors a vacuum. The more empty you are inside, the more you will seek to fill that emptiness, and the more we will be tempted to fill that emptiness with the temporary pleasures of this world. “I feel empty inside, so I’ll fill it with food.” “I feel empty inside, so I’ll fill it with money.” “I feel empty inside, so I’ll fill it with pornography.” “I feel empty inside, so I’ll fill it with climbing the corporate ladder.” Or maybe rather than a temporary pleasure, we’ll fill that emptiness with anger that we will unleash on those around us.
Fortunately for us, Jesus Christ showed us the path we need to follow. Jesus, who was both fully man and fully God, certainly had human ambitions before the beginning of His ministry. When He began His ministry, we know that His neighbors in Nazareth said “Is not this the carpenter”, which leads one to surmise that they knew Him by His occupation. Being fully man, He certainly had human aspirations. Of course He knew of His divinity, but for a time, He was Jesus, son of Joseph, a carpenter. Until He started His ministry, He didn’t know what to do with His Divinity. Then as St. Paul tells us in Philippians 2, Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant”. When He allowed Himself to be filled with the Holy Spirit, He left his human aspirations behind. This is the path we need to follow. Not the path of trying to appease our friends. Not the path of trying to gain the approval of our coworkers. Not the path of seeking the validation of our wives or even our parents. And it’s not the path of following our own desires. No, the path we must follow is one of emptying ourself of all these things so that we may be filled with the Holy Spirit. We must surrender ourselves to God’s Will and His plan.
Of course, this is not an easy thing to do. It is hard to put aside your hopes and dreams and do what God wants. It is hard to stop seeking the approval of friends and family. And when we decide to do this, the moment we first create an emptiness within by removing those temporary things that we’re accustomed to relying on to fill that emptiness, Satan will tempt us more, because he knows he is losing his grip on us. But we must do this. We must empty ourselves and allow that emptiness to be filled with the Spirit, to resolve to do God’s work, to be His servant, to submit to His will. It is difficult, yes, but we were created in our mother’s wombs to do the Father’s work, for it is only His approval that will fill us for eternity. We must be the leaders of our families, the examples to all around us. We must choose to stop being Walking Eagles and choose to start being Soaring Eagles… the men who others look at and say, “Look at how he flies. He must truly be full of the Spirit.”