This is how my ego is described in Tim Keller's powerful, little book The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy.
I've read it through three times now and even listened to an online sermon he gave on the topic. I've led a book club study on it, recommended it to many friends, and given away copies of it. I'm considering paying my kids to read it. It's that kind of book.
Its message is incredibly freeing because it addresses a reality every single person in the world faces every single day of their lives . . the empty, busy, fragile, painful reality of our ego. Keller suggests the remedy to this messy reality comes through the Apostle Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 4:3-4:
I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.
My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
I mentioned in my last post that I attended Allume last week. This was my third year attending, and I was super excited. It's a wonderful conference.
There would be incredible speakers. I'd meet online friends in real life. They give us free books!
But the thing I was most excited about was taking my new found "freedom of self-forgetfulness" into a place that can scare my ego out of its wits and make it work overtime. Think "new kid at school on the playground."
These are women that are doing what I do too. Writing, speaking, inspiring, encouraging. We have similar dreams and ambitions. And we're all in different places on our journey. Some are just starting out, and since I've been stumbling along this path for four years, I love meeting and encouraging them. Others are miles ahead of me, and listening to their stories and encouragement gives me hope, knowledge and courage for my journey. I love to encourage them too by letting them know how they've influenced me and saying thank you.
It's all very beautiful. Until my ego shows up with all its busy, fragile, painful, empty mess.
But this year would be different. I'd been living more and more of life free of the mess and letting God have the final say.
I really thought I'd kicked this thing.
And for the first 36 hours or so, there was little sign of my messy ego. The conversations and talks were full of encouragement and inspiration. Amongst all the words in my ears, I was hearing many more in my heart. God and I were having a running dialogue, and it was rich and directive.
In a nutshell, my heart was coming to a strong conviction and desire that whatever my words and actions say, there would be only one name I proclaimed. Jesus.
And my ego woke up!
For the rest of the conference she fought me like never before. I became that new kid on the playground, nearly paralyzed by insecurity and fear.
I couldn't understand it. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation. I know better! But no matter what I did , I couldn't make her shut up.
Early Saturday morning, I got up and went down to the lobby to read and talk to God. We really needed to get this thing figured out. I asked Him who He says I am, and He told me. My heart found some rest, but I still had 24 hours to go till the conference was over. And honestly, the rest of it was a battle too.
It wasn't until this morning at home in the safety of my own bed that this craziness started to make some sense.
When I committed to proclaiming one name, the name of Jesus, through my online influence, I'd thrown down the gauntlet. And my enemy picked it up. He knows my weak spot. And my ego is fragile. It demands constant affirmation and has an absolutely insatiable appetite. Its drug is praise, and the more it gets, the more it craves. It is totally addicted.
And it knows the name of Jesus is its death sentence.
I'm thinking my ego's death will probably be long and slow. It's humbling, but I refuse to deny the reality of this battle. Because if I pretend there isn't a part of me that lusts after praise, I am pretending my enemy doesn't exist. And he'd love that.
So I'll keep letting my God tell me who I am.
And I'll keep saying His great name . . the name of Jesus.
And as my ego dies, His name will live loud in my heart and words.