I wonder as I work on ways to be a better person, how do I know that I’m not spending all of my energy cultivating my own ego? Some of the greatest people I admire seem to have egos larger than life. Yet others are so humble, so unassuming, so quietly wonderful. I strive to be the latter and fear that I fumble much too often on being the kind of person who sees everything in black and white. I am either good or bad. Some days I just can’t keep up. Other days I have it all going on.
I was reminded in a comment made by one of my favourite readers and bloggers, Panther Creek Cottage that in all the great things we do, we do not do them alone. We are every moment working beside Jesus (or God, or higher powers, or connections, or universes or whatever word suits you here) to get us through. That our success does not belong to us alone. In every magical step, we are led and we are supported.
For a control freak who’s pretty certain she can do everything by herself this is a humbling realization. Ah, that I am not only not alone. But that nothing I do can be credited to my efforts alone.
I thought about this a lot. All week in fact. And towards the end of the week as I made my way to my usual parking spot and meandered to my work building I noticed the church on the corner that has been part of my landscape for a couple of decades. It was no longer a church. It had been converted to an altitude gym.
You see, the thing I find about working out, exercising, setting physical goals for myself is that the work is incredibly self-satisfying. It is inherently selfish. And in a life where the demands on me are far greater than the attention I give myself, exercise creates a much-needed balance. It gives me a refuge, some time to think and move in ways of my own choosing (well, it seems that way when I make the commitment beforehand, there can be some resistance part way through).
But I get caught up in it every time. It takes me to that place of black and white. Good and bad. Better or worse. And I thrive when I am doing better – especially than myself. And there is no end to the opportunities to beat myself up. For not going far enough, often enough, fast enough, long enough. So I don’t let those opportunities in. I ride the high. And push and push and push until I find my happy place. Rich with endorphins or whatever hormones are at play.
I am relieved to know that I am not doing this alone. I think ego is a lonely place. Actually an insecure place. A place where a body has a lot to prove. And is separate from everything. And it is hard work being separate from everything. Being connected to something larger than ourselves, that is the place where we can excel to our highest potential. To realize that it is not ALL ME is actually quite a comfort. If I could kick the ego aside, I’d see that. I’m not in this alone.
So what does it look like for a person to show up at a building where thousands of people have gone to worship their higher power every week for decades and decades and – well – strap on some ropes and climb the walls? Do you reach any higher? Can you find God better from the ceiling? Do you prove to yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to?
I’m not dissing the rock-climbing world. I’m only attaching my own state of 'elated' physical strength to the experience. Would I climb those walls and know that in this building, I am most definitely reaching a higher place? Or could I just as well sit on the floor and gaze up from my spot and experience all there was to know from that vantage point? Or for that matter take my feet for a run through the woods and find the same thing?
What beautiful creations we all are. I believe we show God a great deal of gratitude when we take good care of the form we were given. And I don’t believe any of us serve God better by neglecting ourselves. But I would argue that when you feel separate from yourself, you are not very good at taking care of yourself, and so much more likely to feel separate from your protector and creator. And to feel separate from that, well, that’s a scary place that I have known too well in the past. And I’m willing to use whatever tool it takes in any way I can to prevent that. If it means I have to strap on some ropes and show the gang how high I can climb, then so be it.
Now I’m not much for testing gravity, so I don’t think I’ll be doing that any time soon. But my own strength? I cannot short-change myself here. If I am healthy and my bones are intact and my muscles are still working and my heart and lungs are still willing, then I am blessed. I will invite my ego to join me while I will push and push and push until I feel totally and completely in the company of that something great.
And only now, thanks to my dear friend in the blogger world, I realize I am not doing it alone.