A tall brunette woman in a fabulous dress, classic red with white polka dots, sits cheerfully behind a table at a local bookstore. As she autographs copies of her latest book, she stops to chat with each woman in line, sharing a bit of personal encouragement and wisdom with a genuinely warm and welcoming smile. Known for generosity and kindness, her books are filled with practical advice, giving each reader simple tools to live life well.
Her characteristic wit and wisdom radiate from the pages of each book, making her feel like your closest friend. She speaks occasionally at live events, where she is well loved for her genuine stories and laid back charm.
My ego is trying to kill me, and this woman is at fault. Inside me there is an inner turmoil, a tug of war between my ego and my soul. My ego battles to twist and turn my talent, and the calling God has put on my heart, into the fantasy woman in the red dress who craves and thrives in the public spotlight. Unlike my true personality, my ego is not shy or quiet about trying to get her point across either.
“You want fame!” she yells.
“You want to be appreciated, loved, adored!” she insists.
“You want to be KNOWN,” she asks slyly. “Don’t you?”
“You need to speak on stages, have your face on book covers and websites. Your work needs to be shared where people will comment saying how brilliant, witty, and fun you are!”
“Of course you want all that attention!” she exclaims. “How could you not!?”
But my soul is more rational and knows these claims my ego makes are fleeting and not my heart’s true desire. Cut from a distinctively different cloth than my ego, my soul is a throwback to an era long gone. Longing for a time when slow and gentle had more worth than hustle and busy, my soul craves silence and rest. Inherently wise, she knows the source of all creativity comes from the knowledge and practice of being still before God and trusting Him to lead the charge.
“A gentle and quiet spirit is who you are,” reminds my soul.
“You value family time and Sunday afternoon naps,” remembers my soul.
“And most importantly, you are a servant-hearted daughter in God’s kingdom!” declares my soul.
Motivated not by the promise of fame but by the joy of giving, my soul longs to create, to teach, to help and encourage. My soul also dances the rhythm and flow of my body’s good and bad days, ups and downs, illness and wellness. She makes space for grace, room to create when inspired, and time to rest when exhausted. There is no need to force creativity, my soul declares, because God is the source and his timing is perfect. He is the tender caregiver of my soul, and when I listen, all is well, regardless of the setting or circumstance.
My ego and my soul are in constant tension with each other, battling for which side will win my attention. It’s such an easy trap to fall into, striving to be the tantalizing portrait of the woman in the red polka dot dress who has it all together. It looks so fun! So easy! And who doesn’t want to have it all together? “She has no ups and downs, no good and bad days,” my ego lies. But even a single moment of deeper introspection quickly reveals the truth my ego is always hiding: To live life as the brunette in the red polka dot dress would be pure misery for my soul. I am called to share my gifts, to teach and encourage, but I don’t need to be in the spotlight to do so. In fact, I would prefer to stay quietly in the shadows and give God the spotlight and the glory. It is, after all, His to begin with.
I must honor my introvert nature, the way God created me, and the rhythm my soul knows works best for me. And so I choose intentionally to give space and listen for the truth my soul whispers while my ego shouts. I choose the natural ebb and flow of creativity over the stress of artificial deadlines and due dates.
My ego screams, “Produce NOW or be left behind.” My soul counters, “Create and offer your gifts to the world. This is enough.”
When my ego wants to command attention, my soul whispers, “Seek humility.”
“Make yourself known! Travel! Speak!” cries my ego.
My soul sings sweetly, “You are known already by the people who matter most to you, and by your Father in Heaven. Nothing will satisfy you more than being loved and present and home with your people.”
Fed by the culture around us, bombarded with false messages about success, my ego cries out in fear, “You have to do it the way everyone else does to be successful!“
My soul leaps to reassure gently:
“True success is an inward quality. Success is the family who already loves, respects, and surrounds you. Success is your wild obedience to The One who created you. Nothing more.”
My ego might be trying to kill me, but my soul sees her coming and ducks for safe cover.
At least most of the time.