I know. I totally just threw you with that title, right?
I am mind blown. Like literally trying to form the words that are a jumbled up thought process in my mind. I. Can’t. Even. right now. Like, I get it. But, I don’t, because the human heart is so ugly.
Let’s just start with the word “ego”. What is an ego? Generally, we have an idea that it is this person that is totally full of themselves, and immediately think, “but that’s not me.” I tend to lean towards, “you better check yourself, before you wreck yourself”.
a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance:“a boost to my ego”
But what is it really? It’s not necessarily the inflated perspective of one’s self image, but instead, often being deflated. But why, you ask? Because we are human. Because we’ve adopted this thought process that makes us not satisfied with what we’ve accomplished…or better yet, not being genuinely happy with what someone else has accomplished. Our “ego’s” are always looking to one up someone else & their achievements.
But why do we do this, over & over, and then over again? Because we are empty, painful, busy & fragile. Y’all. I read that over & over and it was one gigantic slap on conviction. I was completely unaware of what I was getting myself into by reading this. (What book am I talking about? The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller.)
The ego is empty. It is puffed up with nothing in it’s center. Just full of nothing. We as humans try so, so, SO hard try to build our identity up around something, anything besides God. (Soren Kierkegaard) Personally, I’ve got half a dozen cringe-worthy images running through my mind of what fills my ego. It reminds me of the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. How in the world am I supposed to be a servant when I’m not even filling myself full, but instead what it looks like to everyone else? See…conviction. It’s u-g-l-y, man.
The ego is painful. Best example in this book, is: the ego often hurts because there is something incredibly wrong with it. It draws attention to itself, every. single. day. An ego makes you question the way you were treated, and always wonders how we look. Case in point – walking doesn’t hurt my toes unless something is wrong with my toes. If we can’t go through a whole day without feeling snubbed or ignored, or low self esteem – then there is something wrong with the ego. This leads back to emptiness.
Thirdly, the ego is busy. Busy drawing attention to oneself, busy trying to fill the emptiness & pain. Particularly with comparison & being boastful. This is nothing new. C.S. Lewis even wrote about this in a specific chapter about pride in his book Mere Christianity – indicating that it is competitiveness that is at the very heart of pride. Apparently we can’t just be happy about that job, vacation, education, etc. – instead it has to be a better job, a better vacation, and better education than so-and-so. There’s a TON more about this, you’ve got to read it for yourself.
Lastly, our ego is fragile. If we are puffed up, with a hollow inside – then we are can easily break by being inflated or deflated (peaks of high self esteem, and dips in low self esteem).
This speaks to me as contentment or being content with where you are at in life, work, marriage, etc. I personally (but you know, people mess up everything) don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting something or going after something – as long as it isn’t because someone else has it or has achieved it. There is one thing in doing something for pleasure, and another entirely when it’s for pride. More often than not, I don’t think we set clear guidelines for ourselves when we act on or do something.
So all in all, how do we reach the point where we are not controlled by what people think of us? Geez. Most people think it’s pretty obvious, as in, it shouldn’t matter what we think others think. I mean, really – the only thing that should matter is what we think of ourselves. Instead of remedying low self esteem with an achievement to boost it higher, or letting something lower our high self esteem – and patting our selves on the back for every right and condemning ourselves for every wrong based on what our ego experiences – instead we should simply be of the “I don’t care what you think and I don’t care what I think” mindset.
Yeah, that threw me too. That’s where that jumbled up thought process comes into play. So you’re telling me not to care what others think, but to not even care what I think too? Crazy, man.
It’s more about humility & being filled with the Holy Spirit. Where you’ve reached a place where the ego no longer draws attention to itself & no longer the person thinks about him/herself no more – basically we do not identify ourselves with good actions or bad actions and praise/beat ourselves up accordingly. It just is, and we aren’t doing it for ourselves or anyone. We aren’t walking into a room with the mindset of “does being here make me look good?” – you’re just there, ENJOYING the moment. Both low self-esteem & pride are horrible character traits to our own future & everyone around us.
Food for thought: Psalms 139:23, 24
I hope to stew on this a bit longer, read and re-read it all some more, and then go back and reference Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians – 1 Corinthians 3:21-4:7 and really dig deep on this subject. I don’t feel as if I fully understand it, and as time goes on, it may have different meanings for different aspects of my life. I think the “ego” is an affliction we all have, yet most aren’t even aware because we’ve (yet again) compared ourselves to others. All in all, this is an extremely good book! Be prepared for those toes to be stepped on 🙂
So read on, friends. If you read it, please comment what you think below & keep the conversation going!
Ps – If you purchase the book through the links provided, I will receive an extremely small commission from your purchase!