Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Vending Machines

Last night I lay awake for a while, unable to sleep. My mind continued to work, and I thought about how I am self-centered. And manipulative. And selfish. And how easy it is for me to try to get what I want out of people. And an image popped into my head: "I use people like vending machines. I try to give them the right combination of things so that I can get out of them what I want. I push the right buttons so that I can get what I want."

That's the way my thoughts went. Remarkably thoughtful for a brain that should be sleeping, yes? Perhaps that's why I couldn't brain wasn't ready to stop thinking. And that thought was true. Too often, way too often, I try to get what I want out of people. Instead of seeing how I can give to others without ulterior motives, I look at people to see what I can get out of them, ready to do what I need to in order to get what I want.

This is all an "I" thing. I am selfish, self-centered, and sinful. Jesus commands me to love others, to do things for others without expecting anything in return. But I don't only do this with people. I do it with God as well.

A lot of this "vending machine" approach happens in my subconscious mind and actions. It is easy to go to God to get what I want. What I don't realize when I exhibit this kind of behavior towards God is that what I am really looking for is happiness and fulfillment that only God can give. I look at God like He is a vending machine, when He doesn't charge me anything and instead paid me, basically. He took away my sin and sacrificed His Son so that I don't have to look for something else. He is everything I need! If I could be in constant awareness of that truth, I don't think I would be as manipulative and self-centered as I tend to be.

Our subconscious thoughts and wants determine our actions. When I look at people as objects or how they can make me happy I am displaying a subconscious desire for "false gods." When I look at others as people to serve and give to, I display a heart that wants to obey God and is content in following Him.



  1. This is SO true. And honestly, I think most people think this way.
    I know I do. It's difficult to get out of the mindset.
    I think it's because it pretty much goes against everything around us. Our culture tells us to do what makes us happy, chase our dreams, find "love" etc. and quite frankly, that does look rather attractive, doesn't it? It is only through Christ and his power that we can find true joy in living the way he tells us to-the way he lived.

  2. Good analogy. And yeah, the message we always are given is "be yourself and pursue your dreams." We end up trying to use people like puppets to create the world we want to live in.

    The message God sends us, by contrast, is Die to yourself and let me make you like Jesus. In a grand stroke of divine irony and kindness, that's the life that ultimately liberates us and makes us happy.

  3. I've never thought of my selfishness in this way. But is good imagery. I did this just last night with one of my sisters. God has been talking to me lots lately about not being selfish and loving other people.