“If any want to become my followers, they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me. Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” - Matthew 16:24-25
Ah, the Ego. There are so many things I could say about it, but I’ll let others say it for me:
“The ego hurts you like this: you become obsessed with the one person who does not love you. blind to the rest who do.” ― Warsan Shire
“The ego is the false self-born out of fear and defensiveness.” ― John O'Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
“If someone corrects you and you feel offended, then you have an ego problem.” - Nouman Ali Khan
“More the knowledge, lesser the ego. Lesser the knowledge, more the ego.” - Albert Einstein
The Ego is a pitfall that all of us have. Like so many things about us, this was something Jesus was keenly aware of, and so he makes turning aside from it a condition of discipleship. If we want to follow him, we have to deny ourselves. We have to turn away from our own Ego.
This is not an easy thing to do. There are a great many things we react to because of our Ego: constructive criticism, mistake-making, losing at something, feeling insecure and/or inferior, the green-eyed monster of jealousy...the list goes on. Ego, while something we all have, is also something we would do well to tame. Doing otherwise leads us down all sorts of perilous paths.
If we take the time and draw upon the strength to do this (and I dare say it’s a life-long exercise and daily discipline), Jesus says we’ll find ourselves. We will find our lives, our sense of purpose, our true Selves when we discard our Ego. It becomes less and less about “Me” and “I” and all about “Us” and “We.” It isn’t about “Me” and it’s all about “You.”
It may be a cross to carry, but if we don’t our Ego’s will get the better of us instead. Let’s dare to carry the cross, instead.
God Of Humility, help us to overcome ourselves by carrying the cross of self-denial for the sake of reminding ourselves of who we truly are.