My firstborn son is a teenager now, but I remember his birth like it was yesterday. I met him that day, and in a way, I met my true self. Being a father turned the volume down on every thing else.
Before that, I was trying to “make a name” for myself, like those in Babel. I’d worked for the Catholic Church for years, but I thought the only way I would be remembered was through some degree of fame. In my case, perhaps through the kind of niche notoriety of a “Catholic celebrity.”
It was about me, though. It wasn’t about God.
I didn’t notice at first, but being a parent changed everything. I no longer cared to be well known. It was enough that my son would know me. And I wanted this precious creature I held in my arms to recognize me as a good father who loved and cared for him always. I wanted him to come to know God through my love. That was enough.
Is that self-denial? In a sense, I suppose. Jesus tells us that, to follow him, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. But I think he means denying our false self. That version of me who wanted to be famous, that wasn’t really me.
My true self recognizes who I am in relation to God. Losing my life means surrendering my ego, day after day. Rather than strive to make something of myself, I must allow God to make something of me. When I recognize who my Father truly is, then I see who I am called to be.