My Life Is Not About Me

2017-0911
MY LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME

In my head and in my heart, I know that’s true.

The problem, of course, is that I really have a hard time choosing to live as if that were true.

I am constantly thinking about myself.  It takes no effort whatsoever.

When I wake up in the morning, I immediately begin thinking about me – my appointments for the day, my aches and pains, my worries about money, my need to hear last night’s sports scores, and my fear that I won’t have an idea for tomorrow’s reflection.

Me, me, me.

Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor suggests that all of us have been enculturated into this pervasive me-centeredness.

Society embraces the romantic ideal that each of us has a Golden Figure at the core of our self.  “There is an innately good True Self,” Taylor says, “which can be trusted, consulted, and gotten in touch with.  Your personal feelings are the best guide.”

How do I know if I’m being wise?  “You know you are doing the right thing when you feel good inside.”

In his book The Road to Character, David Brooks calls this “the shift to the Big Me.”

The cultural drumbeat is relentless.  Your life is quite clearly all about you.

If you’re stressed, you need to pamper yourself.
If you’re interviewing for your dream job, you need to believe in yourself.
If you’re doing karaoke, you need to express yourself.
If you’re being slammed on social media, you need to stand up for yourself.
If you’re on a special date, you need to just be yourself.

As one of the characters in High School Musical sings, “The answers are all inside of me / All I’ve got to do is believe.”

These sentiments, of course, raise some important questions:  If my life is all about myself, what do I do if my self is a dumpster fire?  What if I don’t even know what my self is?

Christian spirituality classically addresses these questions not by calling us to a journey of self-discovery, but to a life of God-discovery.  I actually come to know myself as I fix more and more of my attention on Someone beyond myself.

Apart from a specific plan to do that, however – to set my mind on the things of God – I’ll almost certainly default to wallowing in the things of Me.

Here’s one way forward:

Choose a time each day when you can be alone with God for five minutes.  It could be while you’re still lying in bed, or holding your first cup of coffee, or driving to work or school, or taking a break in the middle of your routine.

In those five minutes, commit yourself to seeking God’s presence in everything that will happen that day.

You might say it out loud – something like, “Lord, I thank you that I am not the center of the universe.  Keep reminding me that that’s your job.  Right now I am choosing again the path of trusting you.  And Lord, I give you permission to do whatever it takes to help me remember today that life is all about you, and not about me.”

By God’s grace, we can even begin to imagine living apart from the tyranny of the Big Me.

— Authored by Glenn McDonald

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