It’s no fun discovering you’re a closet narcissist.
I can’t remember struggling with self esteem in my life, which is probably part of the problem. But a couple days ago, when I realized my “Big D” Desire was to be wonderful and to be described as such, some of the first words out of my mouth were, “Then I think I hate myself.”
A sinking, pile of rocks in the pit of your stomach, limb weakening kind of feeling slugged through me. Then I felt something I haven’t felt in a long, long time: Despair.
Until God pointed something out.
Loathing that narcissistic, Big D Desire… meant that my heart was already shifting. Discovering that my Core desire is all wrong is not an unalterable prophecy. It’s not set in stone. In other words, desires are fluid by nature. In my case, hatred for the Big D meant “wonderful” was already not my Big D anymore. More than anything, I wanted something else for myself. That was a new Big D, emerging like a phoenix from the ashes of my wasted heart.
Some other realizations:
* I haven’t always been this way. I have always craved attention (so my parents tell me) but when I started out in vocational ministry I think my Big D was much closer to a godly plumb line than it is right now.
* Because desires can shift, change, rise, and retreat so fluidly, its also difficult to have entirely pure desires. This is bad news on one hand, and good news on the other. I can never be perfectly holy, but I can’t be perfectly evil, either.
* Ephesians 4 speaks of our old nature, at it’s core, being composed of “deceitful desires.” The DNA of our flesh wants the wrong things. Why would Paul call these desires deceitful? Because they promise what they cannot deliver. They also goad us into lying to ourselves about what we really want, so that we deny, like I did, that we could want something so selfish. My core desire? To be wonderful? Not at all, my flesh reassures me.
* If something is your Big D, even for awhile, it will have made its mark on pretty much everything in your life in no time flat. God has been flash-forwarding a continuous slideshow of corrupted Big D issues in front of me. My conversations, my parenting, my marriage, my ministry—nothing escapes the Big D.
* Once you’re aware of it, you can do something about it. The past few days, God has tapped me on the shoulder probably a hundred times. You’re doing it again. So I confess that. Loathe it. Repent. Choose a different path.
* Replacing your Big D isn’t easy. At least, it isn’t for me. My hatred of my old one has dethroned it, and I want to want some new, important things (like God himself) but I don’t think I actually want them in a Big D kind of way yet. If you asked me, “What do you want?” right now (in a Big D way), I would have to say, “I don’t know.” Sigh. Until I get that straight, my life is pretty much at a standstill. Maybe my Study Break was all about this journey. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m out of the pastoral saddle while this gets sorted out. Maybe.
What I do know is, I really do want to want what God wants me to want.
And for today, at least, I sense him saying, That’s enough.
* What about you?