It is that time of year when the pennant races heat up, and the long baseball season starts getting  interesting.  But as baseball fans we have also had to content with the saga of A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees) and the possibility of be suspended for 211 games because of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).  Columnist David Brooks has this to say about the story.  “One of the mysteries around Rodriguez is why the most supremely talented baseball player on the planet would risk career to….take performance-enhancing drugs?….self-preoccupied people have trouble seeing that their natural abilities come from outside themselves and can only be developed when directed toward something else outside themselves….locked in a cycle of insecurity and ….self-validation, their talents are never enough, and they end up devouring what they have been given”

There is no doubt it, A-Rod is stuck on himself.  We call that being a narcissistic, based on the Greek myth of Narcissus, the proud young man who saw his reflection in a pool and fell in love with it.  Narcissus was unable to break away from his own gaze, and eventually died by the side of the pool.  Men, the spirit of narcissism is found in the very air that we breath.  It is easy to get stuck on ourselves.  The whole consumer culture based on aggressive advertising is aimed to fulfill the wants and needs of number 1.  Just sit back and reflect on the ads directed at the male ego in advertising during sports program.

To loosen  the grip of narcissus in my life I must be vigilant in recognizing its presence in my life.  First, honestly and humbly I must admit the deep narcissist streak in myself.  I am naturally turned in on myself.  I have to admit with the prophet Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it? (Jer 17:9)   Secondly, I must deeply and humbly confess this tendency to turn inward and focus on myself.  I need to make the testimony of the Psalmist my own. “Then I acknowledged  my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Ps. 32:5).  Thirdly, I cry out for God to be merciful to me so that I might have grace to look outward to him and others.  I pray the Jesus Prayer often throughout the day.  It is a great prayer to get your focus off yourself and onto the Lord.  “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on my a sinner.”

I have yet to see a narcissistic man who is happy and fulfilled in who he is as a man.  There is no inner peace and rest in God; always a striving for something more, whatever that is.  It is God who lifts a man up.  Remember the words of Jesus at the end of the story of the tax man and the pharisee in Luke 18:9-14. It was the tax man who cried out, “God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.”  “This tax man.” said Jesus,  “not the other, went home made right with God.  If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself ( Luke 18:14 – The Message).