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.