J-O-Y, J-O-Y, this is what it means, Jesus first, yourself last, and others in-between – a song from 3rd grade private school

by Andrea Elizabeth

Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband reminds me of a few things. One is how I used to admire self-absorbed people like Cher and Barbra Streisand. Lord Goring proposes, “To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” In contrast, maybe it was a facebook commenter who said recently, “people who find themselves interesting are usually boring to others,” and vice versa. I haven’t really found that to be true in the past, but their self-absorbed moments are beginning to irritate me at least. Still, ambivalent me has also loved this quote from Joe Vs. the Volcano, “I have no interest in myself. I think about myself, I get bored out of my mind.”

One is supposed to find onesself, as it were, in relation to others. Sometimes though I think one has to reset how one relates to others. What if one has a messiah complex and thinks she can fix everyone’s problems? What if one has a chronic need for approval and affirmation? During this process of resetting oneself, I think one could possibly decide to view herself sort of apophatically. She could step back and be quiet with others. She may observe that others who have chronic needs for approval and affirmation may suffer from a sense of deprivation in their past and mourn with them as a co-sufferer. She has to stop herself from adopting the person though. This can lead to enmeshment and self-absorbed co-dependence. It also involves the blame-game instead of quiet intercession. Elder Zachariah has advocated a much more passive role in other people’s dysfunction. He advocates no intervention besides intercessory prayer, which he ironically has verbalized to people who he thinks confront too much. I tend to think people, particularly one’s children, need a little more interaction than that, but I am trying to learn to give even them more space.

The one who is perfect in love and has reached the summit of detachment knows no distinction between one’s own and another’s, between faithful and unfaithful, between slave and freeman, or indeed between male and female. But…having risen above the tyranny of the passions and looking to the one nature of men he regards all equally and is equally disposed toward all. For in him there is neither Greek nor Jew, neither male nor female, neither slave nor freeman, but Christ is everything and in everything. – St. Maximus the Confessor