“Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”- Jesus

Ouch! This little bit of scripture has always felt heavy. Early on in married life, I would proof text it as a way to guilt and shame my beautiful, young wife (who thankfully was new to “churchy” life and forgave me being an ass) as a way to show her she would always have to be second and she should put me second too. What a drag?!!? This was my ego “doing what I should”, and my own insecurity. She naturally rested in God’s love far more naturally than me.   Have you ever been beat up with these verses?(sorry babe) Or beat yourself up?

What does Jesus mean? Under the influence of reading Robert Farar Capon (amongst others), I have found new insights on these hard words.  Let’s dive in!

Is there ever a time when so much is demanded? Think about it…it sounds so exclusive and limiting then becomes all-inclusive.

There is a time, not one we like to ponder. Ash Wednesday and Lent begin this week which point there. The most demanding thing is our eventual physical death. The journey Jesus is pointing towards is the first death of our ego which as we let go we can eventually face the physical death without clutching and grasping against inevitability.

I always saw this verse as a way to hate on myself for loving those close to me. What?!? I don’t think I am alone here on this. What if Jesus is suggesting our entire way of holding on, is more a projection and attempt to control? I can almost see a twinkle in his eye and a grin as he could say “You know you will die, right? Why not let me show you a less grasping way so when it comes, you’ll be more ready. It will feel like your dying, but you’re not, not yet anyway?”

On Google, ego is defined as a person’s sense of self. I am not a psychologist so anything I write is my opinion and experience :).  I would say the ego is who we think we are, not really who we are…deep…right?! It is our self-image, the mental projection of who we are. Our job/career, country, religion/spirituality(or lack), our family, our kids, our political opinions, intelligence etc. are how we experience the ego much of the time, unaware of its influence.

Here’s the rub…while those things are good, NONE of them define your worth! Not one. Look at little children. Any pretense? Any proving? Any ego? Jesus also said “Unless you become as little children, you will not see the kingdom of God”  The ego-lessness  of children shows the reality of the Kingdom in the here and now! Then we grow up and together with our environments fabricate our ego or false self  and it becomes harder to see the Kingdom.

This part of you will die, it will. The good news is, it’s NOT you! You are more than any projections! You are more than your image! “You cannot offend the True self. Any offense is the false self/ego.” – Richard Rohr

Learning to let go of who we think we are is the daily taking up of the cross.  The True Self is who we are “Hidden with Christ, in God” We can’t live aware of that all the time. It is the necessary work of suffering and dying. I don’t like it! But I also don’t like the ego’s lies of separation and alone-ness!

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.” -Jesus

This Lent may you find you are more than you think, so much more. May you find lies dying in the Light.  May you see your true worth and the true worth of all you lock eyes with.  May you live loved. May you learn let go.