“Let us, then, renounce these cares, and throw them down before the Lord, being content with what we have at the moment; and living in poverty and rags, let us day by day rid ourselves of all that fills us with self-esteem.” from “Texts on Discrimination in Respect of Passions and Thoughts” by Evagrios the Solitary, in the Philokalia, [V1] pg. 42-43
Honestly, Evagrios the Solitary pushed an issue I have been striving to embrace for years, now. Yet, coming to see self-esteem as what binds us to this fallen world violates my being a counselor. Feeling the need to fend off those ancient Christians dragging heavy-duty wire cutters towards me came naturally. I saw no chain I’d, by their report, wrapped about my ankles. Even as a Christian, then like now, I saw a sorry, sad framing of how to walk in this world. We all need to feel secure and esteem ourselves. As I saw it then, self-esteem was the sure foundation of a normal life.
Was I not then seeking God? Improving my view of self as I read the scriptures, prayed and took part in worship were to had been, I thought, was a honing of my self-esteem. Doing it as I was, my relationship with the Risen One seemed to require that I feel good about myself. What other motivation do I need to keep walking with the Risen Christ, than feeling good about myself?
His esteeming me wasn’t even a dark corner in the room. It wasn’t something of which I had any idea. Now, before you go too far in wondering whether I make sense as a therapist, reframe all of this. I am not talking as a psychotherapist. My sole measure, right along with yours, of being esteemed is built on the faults and successes I live out with my family, teachers, preachers, and peers across many years. Underlying those words, few if any of us have known pure joy, a joy God seats in our essence and not our behaviors.
–> to be continued…