Sometimes I am still so amazed with how obsessed I am with myself. Seriously. How can this be? I think I have grown in this area of loving God more than loving myself and then I am criticized or minimized and I am back to realizing just how much I love me.
In the past few weeks, two specific things happened. In one instance, a ministry I have given my heart and soul to was completely–and quite unintentionally–minimized. In another, a project I was working on was criticized behind my back and that criticism found its way to my ears. In both instances, my first thought was: Why do I even bother?
I have found in my life that these two things– criticizing or minimizing –are the two surest ways to knock the wind out of my sails. I get hurt, I get angry, I get frustrated.
But why? Why do these things bother me so much?
As I thought about this a lot over the past few days, I realize that it is because I love myself more than I love God. I get more angry and offended if someone hurts me than I do if they commit an offense against God.
I am quite ashamed to admit this, but it is just the truth.
When I can find my way back to biblical sanity–a place that is easier to find when I am walking with the Lord–I recognize that I can learn from comments that criticize or minimize–but only if I am willing to look at them honestly and humbly. When I can look at them honestly, there is potential to learn from them. When I am humble and stop thinking so highly of myself, the temptation to walk away from a fruitful ministry because of a comment seems silly.
And so my job is to examine whether or not the comment has truth or not and then to make changes if it does and to forgive and ignore if it doesn’t. That’s it. That’s what I am supposed to do.
I have to be honest with you– I did not want to share this today. It feels far too personal. But I believe that God wanted me to share this. So much so that I had nothing else to write today. Nothing. I was a complete blank– except for this.
And I recognize that self-love is a grave temptation for all of us. When we think we have it conquered, it rears its ugly head and reminds us that we certainly do not. It keeps us depending on and trusting in our heavenly Father for grace and strength. It reminds us why we so desperately need a Savior.
I also believe this dynamic–this self-obsession–is what keeps the body of the church from being unified on many occasions. It is what causes grudges to be held, forgiveness to be withheld, and ministries to fail. It is what causes rifts in families and great divides in churches.
All because of our great idol: self.
And so God has continued to humble me. And while I don’t enjoy it, I am thankful for it. It is always good to be reminded that I am just a pinpoint–less than a pinpoint– on the timeline of life. God can accomplish His plan and His purposes without me–and without you, too. We are here to glorify Him and to make Him known, but He doesn’t need us. However, we do need Him. I think sometimes we get that a little mixed up and view ourselves as more important than we are.
Life is challenging. All of us face criticism or being minimized at one time or another. We face hurtful remarks and slander and gossip that swirls around about us. How we handle it is crucial and very telling of how much we worship self.
The next time this happens to me, I hope my journey to humility and honesty is just a little shorter. I hope that I will be less in love with myself and more in love with God. But I also recognize that this love of self is all-pervasive and ready to rear its ugly head at all times. We have to fight this sin very intentionally. And we can never rest because the path of self-obsession leads to a very dark and lonely place.
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
15 thoughts on “Self-Obsession”
It reminds me of the apostle Paul – he learned how to die to himself – through suffering, through time in jail, through ship wrecks and more. What amazes me is that he also desired that his fellow Jews come to Christ even more than his own personal salvation!
“For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Romans 9:3
Oh, to love God that much and our unbelieving family, friends and neighbors more than our own lives. Only by God’s grace! Praying along with you, Leslie, that God would continue to become more, and we would become less.
Great insight, Donna! Paul is such a great example for us. Thank you!
Thank you Leslie. I needed this today.
I am sorry you were hurt by the carelessness of others, because that is what it was. They were careless. Thoughtless. But no less cruel. Cruelty is no less hurtful even if casually administered.
I like your assessment of your part in such a situation: to analyze, then to modify if needed or set aside if not, and move on. Such a balanced approach. Good reminder for all. Thank you!
Keep doing what you are doing. I know our beliefs could hardly be more different but I appreciate your perspectives and what you have to share is an encouragement to many. Don’t let the negative energies of some discourage you, draw you down and thus steal from others the good you can do.
Thank you, Rhiannon. Actually, I truly believe my perception was far more a problem than their intentions. I’ve done the same thing so often–carelessly said something, never dreaming how I’ve hurt someone. This is the main reason I can offer grace–because I need it so often myself!
I’m so glad you are still reading and I am still praying that you will find the Truth! :)
I to face this problem and like you I realize it is because I have taken my eyes off of the Saviour and put them on myself. Thank you so much for sharing this. It is a good reminder.
Thank you, Pat :)
Ouch! You had to publish this on a day when I lashed out at people who minimized me, didn’t you? Thank you for your obedience to write this.
Ahhh…the Lord and I had a bit of an “argument” about this post. I really did not want to write it. Made me feel SO vulnerable. But even this goes back to my post–putting myself and feelings before God and His glory. Oh, the irony! Thank you so much for confirming that I did the right thing! :)
Leslie, what you write about really touched me…probably the Holy Spirit convicting me that I too, struggle in the same way. Thank you for your vulnerability and transparency in sharing your story. It takes courage to open yourself up like that. But it gave me the courage to share your story with my daughter and I pray she is receptive to listen to me and share my heart with her. I really love reading what you write about; they usually encourage me to take action in some way; and be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s prompting in my own life. Leslie, you are a wise woman with a Godly heart. Thank you.
Thank you, Catherine, for your encouraging words. I am so glad that what I write is a help in your walk with the Lord. I don’t know how wise or godly I am, but it is my greatest desire to become more like Christ every day. And–for whatever reason–God has called me to write about the Christian life. Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know that what I write is encouraging to you. I really appreciate that.
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I am so thankful that you decided to share your experiences and thoughts on “self-obsession.” We have to continually examine our hearts and even our hearts deceive us (Jer. 17:9). Dave Hunt, who is now with the Lord, would remind his listeners of how much we tend to love ourselves. Thank you so much for the reminder!!
You are welcome! Thank you for taking the time to encourage me today :)