The refinement of one’s character is intimately related to the taming of one’s ego, the extreme manifestations of which being both the easiest to identify and to learn to control (no, really, it’s NOT all about you!)
But then come the trick questions, the ones we don’t quite expect to be ego driven at all, the situations where the line between letting one’s ego or justice control the choice making process is very, very hard to find. I was recently discussing the importance, in a marriage, to put one’s spouse first, when someone asked: “What if I am putting my spouse first in a selfish way?”
“You would know,” said someone else.
“Are you sure?” gently challenged the first person. “Wouldn’t you put yourself first, since that’s what your spouse would want?”
Needless to say, that blew more than one mind. And some of us are still recuperating from that one.
Last year, I wrote a post about a husband and a wife being like intertwined trees, and how the spiritual growth of one affects the spiritual growth of the other. I think the answer to my friend’s question might lie in this same metaphor. If the two trees are directed only towards one another, they will end up stunting each other’s growth. But what if they instead directed themselves towards the sun, while at the same time, not letting go of one another? They would strengthen one another as they became taller and taller, providing increasing shelter under their foliage. Which leads me to think that spouses should put each other first for the sake and in light of Holy Writings. Putting your spouse first is both a means to an end, as well as the result of a life centered on fulfilling ones purpose of knowing and worshipping God.
Thankfully, that pretty much takes care of all the potential circular and brain-aching logic of is putting the other first selfless or selfish!