Friday, May 13, 2011

Behind the Ego

There have been seasons in my life where being alive was an accomplishment, perhaps, a miracle. There have been seasons where I did everything in my power to break through limitations and “the glass-ceiling.” There have been seasons where I did anything to shine and stand out. There have been seasons of arrogance where I wanted to be the best at whatever I did and I wanted the world to know it. And, there have been seasons where I have been humbled.

Born, three pounds, eleven ounces, two months premature, with Cerebral Palsy; I shouldn’t, for all intents and purposes, be here today. Growing up, it was enough to do things that I shouldn’t have been able to accomplish – it was the pursuit of normalcy. Rarely, did I want to be handed anything; I had something to prove and nothing was going to stand in my way. I wanted to be treated, like everyone else, and I wanted to do what was “normal.”

At some point, I abandoned the pursuit of normalcy and sought out “living the impossible.” I’ve skied down mountains without falling, I’ve hung off of mountains upside down, I’ve climbed mountains, I’ve overcome injuries that required surgery, and none of that was enough anymore – I wanted recognition – I wanted to do what other people did and I wanted to do it better than them. Regardless of the odds, I wanted live without limits, to shatter expectations, and stand atop that glass-ceiling. In some cases, I believe I accomplished that and I was satisfied.

Eventually, satisfaction wasn’t attained by defeating the odds – I had to show it off to the world around me. I used to tell stories like this to audiences of people, but I gave the credit to God. Internally, I wanted to “worship God,” but I wanted to shine in the process. I believe I authentically worshiped God and lead others in worship. Nonetheless, if I was going to do anything, I fed off of being a showman. If I was going to preach, I did it with the intent of being different than the rest, if I was going to lead worship music it was going to be different, and if I was going to be “holy” it was going to be different than everyone.

As a result, nothing was off limits in my mind – I would do anything to shine. In truth, I think it’s why my Evangelical roots quit working for me. I was too much of a control freak. The more I stood in front of a crowd preaching, the more I played music for people, and the more holiness I achieved the more it fueled my desire to stand out. One, by one, all of the things I did revealed an ego that kept growing – in many ways, my ego is a monster.

After I turned my attention to accomplishing goals in the academic arena, my ego became brash arrogance. On the inside, I knew this wasn’t how I wanted to be seen, but I felt like I was going places, and I enjoyed the ride. Once I felt comfortable in the ministry field, my non-conformist, degenerate, attitude became public knowledge. I rebelled against the world around me and it would drop me on my face. In every case, I’d get back up and rise to more rebellion.

In the midst of attitude, arrogance, “living the impossible,” shattering expectations, and standing out to the world; I have seen a lot of humility. Hindsight is twenty-twenty; today, I can see the good and the bad results of the competition I’ve carried with myself to never go unnoticed. I went from sitting at home watching Sports Entertainment (pro-wrestling), to being a theater technician, to being totally preoccupied with the ladies, to being stuck in a rut, to overcoming new obstacles, to being a rather pious young Christian, to entering college, to garnering rare attention from the ladies (a real confidence boost), to a lot of heart break, to loosing loved ones, to being extremely cynical, to believing nobody could walk a day in my shoes, to suffering through a faith collapse, to embracing a degree of atheism, to seeing faith through a different lens, to being the first in my immediate family (mom, dad, and sister) to earn a college degree, to landing my dream job, to watching it blow up in my face, to hoping to survive each passing day, and now I’m reevaluating my goals and desires.

Behind the ego, stands a man who thought he’d seen it all, who thought he could do it all, who thought he was the best, who made love his god, who felt he’d earned better recognition than was received, who broke every rule out of defiance, who paraded his intellect over others, who never really enjoyed the humility of Christ in his life, who was inspired, who wanted to inspire, who wanted to entertain, who lived without limits, and who has lived with a lot of attitude. Some people love me and some people hate me. The people that love me have kept my ego in as much check as possible – love has a way of showing us who we really are inside. The people that I hate me, I keep at bay because I fear their criticisms – anger, also, has a way of showing us who we are inside.

In reality, I still want to be admired, I still want to be loved, I still want to shine, and I still want to be the best; however, I want to do things in grace. A decade of attitude is being challenged, but this time, it’s me challenging my attitude. At this moment, simply, being alive is an accomplishment. Behind every ego, mine included, there is a human being hurting to find the best way to live their dreams – even if that dream seems simple to someone else.

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