Hard Pill to Swallow:

Your life is not about you

By: Daniel Finegan

Waltonian | The Waltonian Bishop Robert Baron, founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. Source: Word on Fire

It is one of life’s most important and enduring questions: what is the purpose of my existence? The great Catholic Bishop Robert Barron has an answer: “Your life is not about you.” 

This is a hard truth to hear, and even harder to accept. We (and I certainly include myself in this statement) all have what Bishop Barron calls our own little “ego drama…. It’s this story that I’m making up on my own terms for my own purposes…. When you’re caught in the ego drama, you don’t really know who you are. You don’t know where you’re going because you’ve not been galvanized by some value, some good outside yourself that’s calling you beyond the narrow confines of your little ego.” 

It seems that we are excellent at seeing this selfish drama in others but terrible at recognizing it in ourselves. It took me a long time to realize that the world does not revolve around me and my problems– and I have to keep remembering that, because otherwise I get caught in my own ego drama. In my ego drama, I am the only person who really exists; everyone else is either a hindrance or a help in my quest to become the “true me.” 

Far too often in my life, I put myself before anyone else. Instead of doing things for others, I get caught up in my own head and make excuses for my lack of compassion. I try to control those around me and reshape them into my own image, becoming angry when people don’t do what I want. Instead of loving God with all of my being, I let myself become distracted and love other things more highly than my Creator. Instead of obeying God’s clear commandments, I obey my own vain and sinful desires; sometimes I worship myself.

 I have learned something in my life and through my experiences with the ego drama. The “true me,” the person I am meant to be, is not found in indulging my inner selfishness, but in relinquishing it. As the Scripture says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 16:19-20). I am not my own. My life is not my own. I am God’s, and my life is His.

Colossians 1:17 says, “And he [God] is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” It is only in God that things can hold together. “Pride comes before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18)– and what is pride except the love and worship of the Self, the ego drama? If you only love yourself, if you’re always looking out for number one, does your life have any meaning at all? Were we created to serve ourselves, or were we created to glorify and serve God? Jesus did not tell His disciples to follow their own hearts and desires. Instead, He told them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). That is what the Christian life is: denying myself, taking up my cross, and following Christ.

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