A Six-Year-Old's Insight into the Ego
"What's the ego?" my 6-year-old son asked me one day.
"Oh good question," I said, "We need the ego. It's important because it helps us survive. It's the part of us that makes choices and decisions based on looking out for ourselves."
We talked a little about some of these choices and decisions helping us survive and better ourselves. Then I asked him a question in return, curious as to his answer. "What happens if we only live from our ego, the part whose only concern is protecting and looking out for ourselves?"
His answer was immediate, "We don't ever love."
"That is exactly right! " I exclaimed surprised and humbled with how clearly he could see, "That's exactly what Jesus told people."
In Matthew 16:25, Jesus says, "For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it."
The life Jesus is talking about losing is the one built, shaped and ruled by our ego. While safety precautions, preferences, expectations, demands, aspirations, goals, knowledge, social acceptance, emotional reactions, and such are necessary for survival, none lead to the "way of Jesus." And Jesus reminds us that we find this way or "Kingdom" by becoming like a child.
For apparently a child knows that unless we let these go, "We don't ever love."
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Kasey is a scarf, ball and club juggling spiritual director just outside of Nashville, TN. Play helps her Type-A, Enneagram 1 personality relax, creating space for poetry and other words to emerge. She also likes playing with theological ideas like perichoresis, and all the ways we're invited into this Triune dance.