There have been many accounts detailing the dangers of pride and the ego. One of my favorite is the depiction that C.S. Lewis gives of it in The Great Divorce. When the characters go to Hell together, they start off in a group. Gradually, they splinter off into smaller and smaller groups, confined to isolation through their own ego’s.
I find this to be a challenge that I myself face all too often. Through this season of Lent, one of the things that I have tried to do has been to listen to God. I want to say listen to God more, but if truth be told, I am not sure if I have ever truly listened to Him. My ego becomes so loud, that it is like standing next to a waterfall, while trying to communicate in whispers to those standing on the other bank of the gorge. How can I listen to God if I go to such lengths to listen to nothing but myself?
Even in this recognition of my own ego is the danger of thinking that I am “better than” simply because I recognize my own faults – if I have the awareness to write about my faults, then surely that is good enough, right? Recognizing and verbalizing the dangers of my Pride and Ego is so much easier than actually doing anything to change them.
For me, this is the goal of Lent and the Lenten season. While I do believe that there is something to be gained from abstaining from meat, fasting and other ritualistic explorations, the real challenge and area for growth is listening to the messages of God. What is it that God wants me to do? What does He want me to change, so that I can become closer to Him? What areas of my life have I ignored and delayed, simply because they are too hard?
Even when I am aware of the things that God wants me to change, and of the things that I need to change in order to please Him in the correct ways, I often choose not to. Sometimes because I am lazy, sometimes because I believe change to be too difficult, but more often than not, because I believe that I have the answers – that I know what is best.
Letting go and letting God is a saying that I have heard often in life – from my parents, from priests, from AA meetings and a plethora of other sources. Letting go and letting God requires that abdication of ego that I find so difficult, that recognition that I truly need the wisdom of God, and that I cannot rely on my own insight.
As the Lenten season draws to a close, I will continue to struggle with the cascading cacophony of my ego, and I likely will for a long time to come. Perhaps the noise has lessened a bit, and perhaps I have become better at listening to God’s whispers. All I know is that it will be a lifelong area to grow and expand.