By Jason Otwell
Last fall, I went on a weekend trip to a college football game with two life-long friends. These are the type of friends that I can pick right up with no matter how infrequently we see each other. It was a great trip full of relaxation, laughter, and play. I’m not sure who brought it up, but one night we talked about how life felt rote. It went something like this – “I try to love my wife and kids well, work hard, engage friends, and be a good Christian man. It’s a busy agenda. But there are times when this feels unsatisfying, even empty.” Since our trip, I’ve been recognizing this longing for something different more and more in both personal and professional encounters. I believe this longing comes from our desire to move beyond the thing in us that keeps us stuck – our ego.
Our ego is built on achievement and success. It gives structure and vision to our personal development during the first 30 or so years of life. But unbeknown to us, our ego has an expiration date. Once we have solidified our approach to the world by means of gaining knowledge, status, material possessions, all the markers that tell us we’re doing life right, the question of “What’s next?” comes up. This question brings along with it considerable angst, and we respond by striving even more. Some start over with a second career, wife and family, or pursuit of a material possession. This is where the “40 year old guy getting a sports car” stereotype comes from. This allows the ego a new beginning to focus on, and the angst is pushed further into our subconscious.
But it doesn’t go away. The peace, contentment, and joy that we are striving for isn’t found in distraction and repression. It’s through transforming our pain that we can see and experience a new way of living. One with a redefined purpose. A stronger sense of what’s important and real.
A Franciscan priest named Richard Rohr has specified truths that we must consider to help move beyond the ego into a richer life. They are:
1) Your life is not about you
2) You are not in control
3) You are not that important
4) You are going to die
These do not give me the warm fuzzies. In fact they sound negative, depressing, and downright un-American. But if we spend some time processing these truths, they can lead to a fuller, richer experience of life; one that we can feel peace and contentment in living out the rest of our days. And that’s better than a Corvette.
For many, especially men, this process is very difficult to do alone. The counselors at the Atlanta Counseling Center are able to help you sort out how to move towards the future with integrity and hope. If this resonates with you, call us for an initial consultation today.