Yahweh-The Journey To Experience…

Let me begin this post by saying that an ego is an important thing to fully develop. By developing a strong sense of who we are we develop something tangible and beautiful to give back to the world. That being said, one of my complaints about the field of psychology is that it does not go far enough. A person engages in therapy to feel better about themselves and to develop a solid sense of self. These ideas have also permeated our culture more and more as they become more mainstream. I even saw this when I trained chaplains. I was amazed at how many folks could walk around with this “manufactured” sense of self drawing boundaries that were socially awkward and sometimes a little offensive, and these people were clergy! I appreciate psychology for what it offers and am a student of it myself. However, to develop a strong ego simply for the sake of having one is selfish and drastically limits the potential of what we can become. Some forms of therapy can lead to the formation of self talk that prevents a person from looking inwards and doing the integrative work necessary to truly heal. Fortunately spiritually picks up where psychology leaves off and recognizes that the whole purpose of developing a healthy sense of self is to have something to give back to the world. Now, there are a lot of people that give to the world who do not have a good sense of self. Their efforts are less than what they could be if they would take a season to work on themselves. Many of these folks are trying to fix or repair some damaged or painful part of themselves and are working on themselves vicariously in their work to help others. A pause is needed to attend to their own healing. Only then can they truly give from a place of altruism rather than some compulsive or warped internal motivation. “How do you know when you have a solid sense of self?” You might ask. Well, I am glad you asked. One of the markers of having a true sense of self and a healthy ego is gravitating towards experience over labels and substance over flash. We very often label ourselves and allow others to label us. In many ways, therapy teaches to continue labeling things as a means to regain control over some neurosis that flings us into insecurity and feelings of powerlessness. We can even find ourselves paralyzed and controlled by the labels of others. Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Christian, Atheist…all of these labels have one thing in common. They are designed to set us apart from other people. They are an extension of our own ego. The term ego came into vogue with Sigmund Freud who used the term to refer to a person’s sense of self and self identification. Curiously enough, in the Old Testament Moses has an encounter with the burning bush which within the narrative was inhabited by the presence of God. Moses asks God within the burning bush: “Who are you?” God replies to Moses: “I am.” In Hebrew this translates into Yahweh or Jehovah depending where you put the vowel points, but it literally means “I am” which is also exactly what the word ego means in Latin. It is somewhat amusing that Freud himself being Jewish never made this connection. I appreciate God’s response to Moses. His answer to Moses expresses the notion that God cannot be labeled, but only experienced. Yet here we are labeling ourselves, labeling God, and labeling everything around us. Eventually labels crumble. Someone we labeled to be in high esteem fails us or the labels we project onto God get exposed to be little more that our attempts to control something way larger than ourselves. The older I get, the more interested I am in experience. I don’t want to talk about something…I want to do it. I want to immerse myself in other people’s lives delving past what they think about themselves into the truth of who they are. I want to look within myself and move from a need to hold status labels to a place where people can simply experience who I am. Labels allow the ego to function in the make believe structure that we have created. They push us to want to set ourselves apart from everyone else. The question I leave you with today is this: “What if we were never designed to be set apart from others?” I encourage you to take some time to work on yourself because who you are is the greatest treasure you have to offer the world once it has been honed and polished. Choose experience over labels and then you may begin to see that our souls were never designed to be set apart, but to be connected and empowered towards growth and change for us all in this experience of life.-

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