Friday, December 3, 2010

Learning about ME

nar·cis·sism [nahr-suh-siz-em]

1.  inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity
2.  Psychoanalysis . erotic gratification derived from admiration of one's own physical or mental attributes, being a normal condition at the infantile level of personality development.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.  (Romans 12:3, NIV)

So many times on blogs and Facebook we seen lists of random information about people (I have even done it!).  We *tag* our friends, wanting them to read about our lists about ourselves.  We take hundreds of pictures of ourselves, and post them for the world to see our levels of obsession with ourselves and how we look, and what we think about ourselves.  As a culture, we have bought in, hook, line, and sinker, to the notion that it is all about #1 - I am *THE* single most important person in the world.

That idea, of people being obsessed with themselves, to the point of not recognizing that we are hurting others or of seeing ourselves as the center of the universe used to be recognized as either a stage that every child grows through and out of, or a diagnosable mental illness.  No more.  In the latest evolution of our obsession with ourselves, we have so far removed our society from health that now narcissism has been removed from the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (D.S.M.-5) as a diagnosable mental illness. You can read all about how upset clinicians in the field of mental health are about that removal.  That is not my point.

There ARE times when we should become more aware of ourselves, of how we look and act.  We definitely need to take time each day to have a look in the mirror - if for nothing else, at least to make sure we didn't leave traces of breakfast smeared across our face.  Figuratively, we also need to do daily checks in the mirror to evaluate how we look to others, in our character, how we are responding to circumstances, if we are becoming more Christ-like, or if we are allowing ourselves to become more and more selfish.  Self-evaluation is not a bad thing.

In fact, I would venture to say that we *need* to self-evaluate on a regular basis in order to be growing and maturing.  It is very easy for me to get stuck at a point, in my head, where I either did something *right* - "way to go, Laura...good paper!" or where I completely blew it - "Laura, that was SO stupid!  How could you?!?"  When I get stuck at those points, I am not doing a healthy evaluation of either those circumstances, or of my own self.   When that happens, I need a healthy dose of reality from people around me, helping me to see my pride.

So, this challenging time in my life has been prompting me to do a lot of self-evaluation, and some of the things I am learning about myself are just plain painful.  I don't *like* having my inflated views of myself deflated.  I don't like to be challenged to view myself as something different than that person I think I am, somewhere deep in my head.  The self-evaluation has also meant dealing with some issues that were buried deeply so that I *wouldn't* have to work on them.  More pain.  Did I mention that I don't like pain?!?

One of the things that this time of self-evaluation has done is prompting me to see myself through someone else's eyes...specifically, through the eyes of Someone who loved me enough to die for me, and who still loves me, despite my shortcomings.  Being loved so unconditionally has an amazing affect on my view of myself!!

I John 4:19  "We love because He first loved us."

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