One of the central points that I’m drawn to in Christian theology is the death of the ego (lowercase-s-self) and resurrection of the Christ-Self (uppercase-S-Self).
I mentioned the death of the ego in a sermon in class the other day and a classmate of mine got a little bent by the concept. Her response was essentially (not an exact quote by any means), “I grew up in an overly legalistic household where my voice didn’t matter. I’ve worked hard through the years to develop a sense of confidence - to develop an ego.”
Another student mentioned how - typically - women need to ‘build up’ their egos. This whole ego-killing thing might be good for men who have overblown egos, but not women.
It made sense and put me back on my heels a little bit... As an enneagram 9, my first reaction is to accommodate. “Oh, totally, I’ll edit that ego-killing stuff out in the future.” But then I told my wife about it. And, as is common, she preached to me the good word that I couldn’t see myself. She basically said what I already knew to be true but needed to hear from someone else. She said (and again, I’ll embellish/elaborate)…
Ego is not the same thing as self-confidence.
Ugh, I thought… Of course…
Ego is the illusion of a separate self unplugged from God and neighbor (creation/nature being one of those neighbors). It feels powerful on its mental island, but the island is fake. It says, I did it myself. It says, I have control over this life. I’m “self-sufficient.”
This is the root meaning of Sin… Suffering from the illusion that we are our own gods.
Ego doesn’t listen - it only speaks. It is the part of us that is turned inward. It puts us as the central role in the theatrical display of life. We are either justified in our rightness or condemned by how bad we’ve mucked it up for ourselves and everyone else.
And it will always be there (even after the gospel kills it - it will return).
Ego, though it might feel like confidence, is NOT confidence. It might parade as confidence. But when followed to its conclusion, the ego always leads to the end of confidence because it can never live up to itself.
Ego is in direct opposition to true confidence.
True confidence comes when the ego brings us to the end of our small-s-selves. When we see that we’re a popcorn fart in the vastness of time and space and that the more we empty ourselves (or life empties ourselves for us), the more we can allow God - our ground of being - to move into us. That’s when we can be turned outwards towards God and neighbor… In real Capital-S-Self confidence.
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