In the first post on age, we dealt with the fact that young and old alike struggle with issues of age. We talked about a sort of age related dementia that goes along with youth, adulthood, and old age, and we gave you some things to remember and do that will help with these dilemmas of age. (If you missed that post, click here and catch up before you read further.)
But, struggles with age highlight a deeper issue. At the center of all our struggles around age is a simple three letter word…ego. No matter your age, ego is a fire-breathing dragon you have to continually face and slay…and hopefully not get too burned in the process. Look at how the dragon of ego can be seen at each age…
- Children and Teens. During this time, our ego is large and in charge. We are the center of our universe. We want what we want when we want it…whether it’s a bottle, the latest toy, or an the keys to the car. It’s as if everything is about us. This is what makes parenting so difficult and heartbreaking at times.
- Adults. As adults, our ego is not as blatant, but it still wants to drive. It shows up in our desire for the nice house, the nice car, the better job, the bigger salary, the well-behaved children, and the comparison with everyone else. This is what makes the adult years so exhausting and stressful.
- Older adults. As older adults, our ego has been tamped down some, but it’s still present an accounted for. It shows up when something changes our routine, when someone changes our beloved institutions, or when health restricts our income and mobility. It’s about a loss of control, which is what makes this stage of life feel so helpless.
No mater what our age, when something encroaches on the desires of our ego, we feel slighted at best and violate at worst. We feel the victims of some sort of age discrimination. And that could very well be. Every generation has a tendency to feel above another generation.
But God tends to take what we view as age discrimination (real or perceived) and use it as character development. You see, when we feel like someone is discriminating against our age, it’s easy for pride to wake the dragon of our ego. And when that happens, someone will get burned. This is true, no matter what our age.
So what is God trying to do with our ego? Put it in it’s place!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying God wants us to walk around beating ourselves up and thinking poorly of ourselves. To the contrary, Scripture tells us that we’re fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14) and that God loves us so much, He was willing to send His own Son to rescue us. (John 3:16)
It’s not that God doesn’t want us to have an ego. It’s that He doesn’t want our ego to drive us. This is what the apostle Paul was saying in Galatians 2:20…
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20 ESV.
Whether you’re young or old, when you feel slighted because of your age and your ego starts to swell, it’s really a call to get your ego in check by putting Christ back in the driver’s seat of your life. There is no change in circumstance that can threaten God’s purpose, power, and presence in your life. So you when something bruises the ego of your age, you can allow that bruised ego to steer you toward selfishness, or you can allow your Savior to steer you toward a stronger character.
The choice is yours.