Rather than being fiercely independent or conversely, hopelessly enmeshed and enslaved by a need for approval (or some tangled combination of both!), we are being built for something entirely different. As Chittister describes it in Wisdom Distilled from the Daily,
We have to learn to be for one another so that the love of God is a shining certainty, even now, even here... And it is a far cry from the rugged individualism, the narcissism, and the brutal independence that has become the insulation in our neighborhoods and the hallmark of our culture.
Later she whittles it all down to a simple sentence:
It is easy to talk about the love of God; it is another thing to practice it.
Today, this Good Friday, I am thus reminded that Christ is not only our Redeemer (though that is more than enough), he is also our model, our standard, our exemplar, of life well-lived. As I sing O Sacred Now Wounded in worship during a Good Friday service, I want to pay special attention to the lyrics, which remind me of what it means to live a sacrificial, selfless life. And where, amazingly, purpose and meaning are finally found. As Jesus said in Luke 9:24-25, "For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?"
O sacred Head, now wounded,
With grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns, Thine only crown
How pale thou art with anguish,
with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish
which once was bright as morn!
What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered,
T'was all for sinners' gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
'Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor,
Vouchsafe to me Thy grace.
What language shall I borrow
To thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever,
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love for Thee.
(Here's a lovely version of the hymn by Fernando Ortega)