"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

When Self-Love Is Not Ego Trip



A
s Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath." (Mark 2:23-28)

I would like to take the theme of affirmation. For my first point, I would like to share something about my youth when I started to seek out the affirmation of others. There was a time when I would take to heart the comments of others. I would feel hurt if I would be labelled a weakling. In fact, together with my other siblings we would often be compared to our eldest sister who was a consistent first honor. We would often hear the remark "You are not like your sister." It became a self-fulfilling prophecy. It turned out that we did not have to excel like our eldest sister because all the time we were told we were not like her. Until one day a teacher of mine gave this affirmation to me "Jomari you are good, you can do it!" After hearing that, there was something that was unlocked within me. I began studying harder and then immediately I was promoted to the honors class to the big surprise of everyone. I started excelling thanks to my english teacher and adviser. There is something about receiving affirmation that contributes to human development. It does not only build up individuals but also it builds up families and communities. Individuals who share the same dreams, aspirations and goals are the ones whose affirmation matters so much. To be in their company is already a very strong boost along our journey.

For my second point, when are the times that seeking affirmation is risky or unstable? It can be a risky endeavor when we look for affirmation not only from the wrong persons but also the wrong type of affirmation. For example, a wrong occasion to seek affirmation is when someone is too egocentric. The ego would like to look good and would like to hear good stuff about itself and so it goes to people who would say good things to further boost one's ego. It is like turning to booze to be intoxicated. When this happens it is time to go to a real friend who can look you in the eye and tell you that you are wrong. Boy! If you have a friend like that, thank God for him or for her because they are truly God-sent. Their mission is to give us a kind of affirmation that may sound like a negation, a negative feedback but in the end it is life-changing. We start to accept ourselves as we are, not only the angels within us but also the demons. Remember that it is not only the good side in us that needs affirming, the dark side also needs affirming which can only come from us, from one's self. We call that self-awareness and it is not self-suppression or self-forgetting of painful or unwanted thoughts. No. We start to truly love ourselves with a self-love that is not ego trip, far from it. The human being is not made for concepts and emotions, but concepts and emotions are made for the human being. We have the capacity to stand above our concepts and emotions without suppressing and without becoming a slave to them. We must be free at all times to choose. Why? because there are healthy concepts and emotions and there are so many self-destructive ones. So beware!

For my third and last point, to whom should we go first when we are hungering for affirmation? Jesus also needed a kind of boost during his baptism at the Jordan. From whom did he get that? From his Father whose affirmation is the most stable and secure. The one who loved Jesus first, even while he has not started yet his public ministry. God's nature is to love and to affirm us first even before we can achieve anything. Before we can even return the love and affirmation to God, he already says, "This is my beloved son/daughter with whom I am well pleased." That is why when God is Lord of the Sabbath, it means God first! God comes first whose affirmation of you and me need not be earned. He gave it already. So whenever you go hunting for affirmation from other people make sure these people are those who loved you first. Our parents did that. But before our parents could do it, God did it and he continues to do it endlessly. The gospel of John says, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in a place of grace already given” (Jn 1:16). God's affirming grace upon grace is very clear. The fullness of grace is in Jesus, i.e., the never-ending source of grace and whose words of love and affirmation we must always listen to.

Lord, forgive us for substituting your affirmation with worldly forms especially institutionalized forms of affirmation. All the honors, rewards, medals. Teach us to seek you instead, just your love and your grace, it would be enough. Amen. Fr JM Manzano SJ

Comments

  1. Thank you po, Fr. Jom for such a nice balanced meaning of affirmation...

    But there are also some moments in which this "affirmation" such as consistent "very good" transforms into "expectation".. when the person lives according to how the other sees her... It's quite a tiring and lonely world...

    Sometimes you cannot even break a single rule... You cannot just simply express what you desire or just go out of the box...

    Hay... Anyways... Hope everyone can express their freedom in pursuit of their happiness and their purpose in life...

    God bless po..
    Take care po...

    :')

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    1. Thank you for your very sincere sharing! I feel you especially the "nudge" of expectations. Speaking of that word "nudge" Goolge gives the definition: "prod (someone) gently, typically with one's elbow, in order to draw their attention to something." Let us use to our advantage those "nudges" to bring us closer to God more than anything! Amen! πŸ˜‡

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  2. If only I can just simply leave everything behind and have the courage to face and shy away the judging glare of others... And able to risk life tomorrow (whatever will be, will be)... But I am torn between everyone's expectations and fear to tread the present, outside world...

    I just want to be happy and free...

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  3. When self-love is not an ego trip, it brings out truth in freedom , builds up communities and heals to wholeness bearing humble and joyful service.

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    1. Thank you for your wonderful mirroring! I am reminded about 1 Cor 13:6 "Love rejoices in the truth but not in evil." Self-love is not ego trip when such love is accompanied by one's conscience, the two are constant and inseparable companions. Where you find one, you ought to find the other. Until we have developed and formed our conscience which serves as our moral compass, we cannot authentically love ourselves or love and serve the other in a healthy and mature way. GBU!πŸ˜‡

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    2. Thanks for reflecting back the light of the moral compass giving direction on loving God and our neighbor especially those in need with authenticity and maturity. How deep are your thoughts, Fr. JM! A source of nurturance for my heart and spirit...Waiting for more spiritual dewdrops ...GBU!πŸ˜ŠπŸ™

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