Ego Strength and Conditional Love

Richard Rohr talks a lot about needing Ego Strength in the first of half of life so that we can survive and cope. It helps us develop identity, our gifts and talents, and help us to get on with life. This ego strength is sometimes not received when we were growing up. It would require parents and a community of support that mirrored us, spoke life into us, and parented us in such a way that we felt we had something to offer this world.

So many of us grow up not really knowing who we are, chasing relationships (i.e. partner, church leadership, boss, work, fame, etc) for validation, trying to figure out who we are and if we’re good enough. We don’t have the ego strength to be sure of ourselves.

He also talks about needing both unconditional and conditional love. Conditional love would be the equivalent of the 10 commandments in religion or a parent who is constantly setting limits and boundaries. I had some leaders in my life that provided conditional love too often. But it made me a better musician, student, and thinker. I didn’t like the mind games but I was pushed.

I had a boss that offered both types of love as well. She was very demanding and expected results. But she showered the team with lots of encouragement and respect. Yet if we screwed up, we knew about it. I did my best I.T. work under her supervision. I wanted to meet her expectations. I was better for it.

If we don’t have rules or laws, we’ll never know if we’re in danger or if we’re about to cause danger. The Bible says not to covet. We’re told not to do that. And when we do it, we see its effects. We need some conditional love figures in our lives to help us grow. We need a healthy dose of law and love for spiritual vitality.

We also need to lay down our first half of life ego strength so that we do not become narcissistic. The world doesn’t revolve around us. Church does not revolve around us. Both will continue beyond our contributions or hostile feelings towards it.

Richard Rohr: The Dance of Intimacy

I’m learning more and more that intimacy is about knowing my identity found only in God (who is Love).  I must hear the words of belonging, belovedness, and blessedness from Love (God) so that I can have a self to offer in intimacy.  Sometimes intimacy is not happening because the other is not dancing.  They don’t have a healthy sense of identity as found in God.  So it causes them not to have a self to offer in order to dance.  Too often, we blame the other for our shortcomings or lack of self-worth.  Yet, we must return to the voice of Love to claim our self-worth in God.  The following is adapted from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations:


A relationship demands two. So the first step in the dance of intimacy is an appropriate sense of self. We all know stories about teenagers or even older people who give themselves away to another person in the hope of finding themselves. It never works, of course, but it’s not their fault. They must not have gotten those mirror neurons from the gaze of love to know who they were. So they think this handsome man or this beautiful woman is going to take care of me and is going to give me my identity.

In the story of Moses and the burning bush, there is first of all an allurement, a seduction and attraction, a fascinating experience (the bush that is burning but not consumed). Moses is attracted to it. Then Yahweh says, “Take off your shoes. Come no nearer.” God is not calling Moses to enmeshment or loss of his own self. Yahweh is telling Moses, “I know who I am, and you are about to enter into an experience of the sacred with me, but stand your ground. Come no nearer.” God honors the other as distinct. So love is not absorption, love is not a martyr complex where you let other people use you. When you know your inherent divine identity, you are truly ready to participate in the sacred dance of intimacy. And in the dance of love there must be at least two.

Adapted from Intimacy: The Divine Ambush , disc 2 and 4
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Gateway to Silence:
The gaze of God receives me exactly as I am.