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The Plague of “I” Trouble

Don’t you just love the person that has one favorite topic and the discussion of that topic dominates every conversation?  For some that may be their success in business, or the political chaos, the violence in America, or their depression over their poor condition in their journey.  When we converse with folks, we love diversity in topics, humor, seriousness, and lively banter. Perhaps the person that taxes our patience the most is the person that is totally focused on themselves.  Every sentence, every story, every thought, and every event is about “I”.

Self-absorbed people don’t realize how self-absorbed they truly are.  Their lives have been lived with such a “self” centered and gratifying existence, they just can’t grasp that anyone else is that important.  So, whether they are egocentric regarding personal greatness or depressed over personal struggles and losses, conversing with them is boring and can be aggravating.

We suffer from poor I-sight. Not eyesight, a matter of distorted vision that lenses can correct, but I-sight. Poor I-sight blurs your view, not of the world, but of yourself.

Some see self too highly. Maybe it’s the PhD or pedigree. A tattoo can do it; so can a new truck or the Nobel Peace Prize. Whatever the cause, the result is the same. “I have so many gifts. I can do anything.” Brazenly self-assured and utterly self-sufficient, the I-focused have long strutted beyond the city limits of self-confidence and entered the state of cockiness. You wonder who puts the “air” in arrogance and the “vain” in vainglory. Those who say, “I can do anything.”  You’ve said those words. For a short time, at least. A lifetime, perhaps. We all plead guilty to some level of superiority.

And don’t we also know the other extreme: “I can’t do anything”? Forget the thin air of pomposity; these folks breathe the thick, swampy air of self-defeat. Roaches have higher self-esteem. Earthworms stand taller. “I’m a bum. I am scum. The world would be better off without me.” 

Divorce stirs such crud. So do diseases and job dismissals. Where the first group is arrogant, this group is diffident. Blame them for every mishap; they won’t object. They’ll just agree and say, “I can’t do anything.”

Two extremes of poor I-sight. Self-loving and self-loathing. We swing from one side to the other. Promotions and demotions bump us back and forth. One day too high on self, the next too hard on self. Neither is correct. Self-elevation and self-deprecation are equally inaccurate. Where is the truth? Smack-dab in the middle. Dead center between “I can do anything” and “I can’t do anything” lies “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Neither omnipotent nor impotent, neither God’s MVP nor God’s mistake. Not self-secure or insecure, but God-secure — a self-worth based in our identity as children of God. The proper view of self is in the middle.  [Max Lucado, LIFE TO THE FULL, Nashville: Thomas Nelson. (2012).]