Part of the Series The Twelve Days of Christmas as Twelve Ways to Deepen Your Connection with God.
You seek God, but the further you go on this journey, the more you keep bumping into yourself.
Let's say you decide to take a few minutes and enter the quiet of prayer; you descend into your heart and journey further toward the intimacy with God you desire. But the moment you do, a riot breaks out within you. Your mind jumps to life and your thoughts leap around inside your brain like a bunch of monkeys on crack.
You've come face to face with your ego.
The ego is not pride; rather it's the self-managing faculty within you whose job it's been to take care of you all these years. The ego's not bad; it just thinks it's God. So when you begin to seek God in earnest, it's not amused. It doesn't mind you being religious---if you're religious, it's still in charge telling you how to be good, condemning you when you're not, and reminding you of all the rules you ought to keep.
So long as the ego still rules the roost, you'll never really know God. Your ego can know all about God but that doesn't mean you know God. What you know of God is simply a surrogate for the real thing.
To advance in the spiritual life your ego must be humbled, and that's no easy task. "Humility," someone's said, "is not thinking less of yourself; it's thinking of yourself less." But that's precisely what the ego can't handle. When you seek God earnestly, it will holler and scream at you, and will try to distract you with a parade of ugly thoughts, fears, even the most beautiful things in the world.
When it does, don't give up; all this means you're moving in the right direction. Concentrate on the light you seek. You're humbling your ego; you're un-selfing yourself. God awaits behind the idol of your humbled ego. Humility, then, is the beginning of wisdom. But know this: it will get darker before it gets lighter; you'll feel more like a fool before you feel wise. You've entered the narrow gate and the way is hard (Matthew 7.13-14). Only a few walk this way.
Today, rather than just letting my thoughts rule the roost, I'll take a few moments and watch them without following where they want to take me. That ought to infuriate my ego . . . in a good way.