Okay, so I've talked about Ego. It is a tool created by our finite human minds, to protect ourselves from fear of the unknown and from exposing our true self to the world. Through Christ's atonement, we have no cause to fear. There is no unknown - we have the plan of salvation to guide us through life, and we know that our ultimate aim is to be like God. Our true selves are like Him, Gods in embryo. Christ beckons us to be a light to the world, to remove the mask of our Ego and live true to our highest self.
But... what does this all mean, in practical terms? I feel like a lot of what I've been saying is very theoretical without being grounded in real-world examples. I will share with you some of my layers of Ego that I've been sloughing off. A word of warning: the Ego isn't very pretty. Like Eustace's knobbly dragon-skin coat that Aslan peeled away, looking at the truth of your Ego can be uncomfortable.
"Home Ed Mum"
I got used to being noticed, being a bit different from the norm. (see #3) I loved home educating my children, and for a long time we had a blast! But after a while, the children's needs changed and I didn't want to change with them. I liked being a bit quirky. I enjoyed having a reason to spout off about "the state of education" at every opportunity. I was probably a bit insufferable about it all! I felt very smug about being outside of the "system" and living life off the cuff without a set routine or schedule. Hmmm. Ego, much?
"She's So Clever"
I got married and started a family young. I was a bright student and everyone expected "more" of me. Although I was happy with my choices (and still am), I also felt the pressure of proving that I was still intelligent and bright, and that I hadn't wasted my life. Conversely, I avoided challenging myself too much (for example, I never got around to taking any night classes despite wanting to go) so I couldn't fail at being smart. There was too much of my Ego tied up in this way of thinking, and I missed out on friendships, opportunities and new experiences because of it.
"Where are you from, then?"
I'm a transplant from another country. I've lived outside of my home country for nearly the same amount of time as I grew up there, but have retained my accent and a lot of my cultural mannerisms and thought processes. Being "American" has become a part of my identity in a way that probably wouldn't have if I had stayed in the States. I get a fair amount of attention, being a foreigner, and everyone I meet seems to remember me easily. I've gotten lazy over the years and I very rarely remember people's names after first meeting. I have secretly scoffed at cultural expectations of my new country many times. I tend to have a sort of lofty attitude, like I'm above all that stiff upper lip British politeness or whatever. How unpleasant! Nothing makes me better or more interesting than someone else. Time to peel back this Ego layer and eat some humble pie, to boot.
There are more examples - plenty more! - but I hope that what I've shared helps to spark a realisation or two in your life, so you can peel off your dragon-skin Ego and live a bit closer to the Lord. Looking at my list, I can see why these Ego layers formed, and what purpose my Mind thought they would achieve, but in the end all they have done is separate me from living as my true self and have distanced me from other people.
I'm really happy to be releasing these issues. I feel lighter and more comfortable in who I am. I think that, when you are constantly trying to shore up your Ego and keep that mask firmly attached, you aren't able to be authentic and loving. This is a better way to live.