Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Narcissistic much? Moi? Let me fix my hair before I answer.

Narcissism. Let's talk about it. But, first, let's define it.
inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity.
Synonyms: self-centeredness, smugness, egocentrism.
Psychoanalysis. erotic gratification derived from admiration of one's own physical or mental attributes, being a normal condition at the infantile level of personality development.
You know, many today seem concerned about people's self-esteem. I'm becoming increasingly convinced we need to examine ourselves and see whether we are in the faith, but do less thinking about self. I'm becoming more convinced that it's fruitful to judge ourselves, that we might be fruitful in self-correction, but not to dwell on self too much, or to consider ourselves too deeply, and definitely not to think on self so often.
I'm positive putting God first and others second are direct biblical commands to the believer.
However, there's too much these days that lends toward self. We don't need more self-esteem; we need more esteem for God. No matter what good thoughts we could wrangle up about ourselves, God's thoughts towards us are better than ours are towards us.
Go back and read that last paragraph again. You need to do that; trust me.
In Book III of Ovid's "Metamorphoses", there is a telling reading of when Narcissus sees himself and falls in love: 

            As Narcissus had scorned her, so he had scorned the other nymphs of the rivers and mountains, so he had scorned the companies of young men. Then one of those who had been mocked, lifting hands to the skies, said ‘So may he himself love, and so may he fail to command what he loves!’ Rhamnusia, who is the goddess Nemesis, heard this just request.
            There was an unclouded fountain, with silver-bright water, which neither shepherds nor goats grazing the hills, nor other flocks, touched, that no animal or bird disturbed not even a branch falling from a tree. Grass was around it, fed by the moisture nearby, and a grove of trees that prevented the sun from warming the place. Here, the boy, tired by the heat and his enthusiasm for the chase, lies down, drawn to it by its look and by the fountain. While he desires to quench his thirst, a different thirst is created. While he drinks he is seized by the vision of his reflected form. He loves a bodiless dream. He thinks that a body, that is only a shadow. He is astonished by himself, and hangs there motionless, with a fixed expression, like a statue carved from Parian marble.
            Flat on the ground, he contemplates two stars, his eyes, and his hair, fit for Bacchus, fit for Apollo, his youthful cheeks and ivory neck, the beauty of his face, the rose-flush mingled in the whiteness of snow, admiring everything for which he is himself admired. Unknowingly he desires himself, and the one who praises is himself praised, and, while he courts, is courted, so that, equally, he inflames and burns. How often he gave his lips in vain to the deceptive pool, how often, trying to embrace the neck he could see, he plunged his arms into the water, but could not catch himself within them! What he has seen he does not understand, but what he sees he is on fire for, and the same error both seduces and deceives his eyes.
            Fool, why try to catch a fleeting image, in vain? What you search for is nowhere: turning away, what you love is lost! What you perceive is the shadow of reflected form: nothing of you is in it. It comes and stays with you, and leaves with you, if you can leave!

I heard someone credit C.S Lewis with the following: "Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less." That's good. To be humble, we don't have to be mean to ourselves, or self-deprecating; we just have to spend more time thinking on others!
I digress.
Or, do I?
Are we talking about humility or narcissism?
Well, yes. One will always force the other out. 
The Apostle Paul would say, "Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don't think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us." (Romans 12:3 NLT)
The Lord Jesus said some fairly rattling words to the overly-self-esteemed and narcissistic types: "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 14:22 ESV)
On and on we go. "Mirror, mirror, on the wall..." Yeah. We get it. 
Do we?
It's healthy to think up towards God, and worship. It's healthy to think out towards others, and serve. It is healthy to be honest in our evaluation of ourselves, but it's not healthy to think about ourselves all the time.

It's not more of me I need; it's more of the Lord.

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