Content with Who You Are

By Keith Miller | March 1, 2010

Keith, my problem is that my spouse says that I am selfish, but I buy her nice clothes and presents of jewelry, etc.  I even joined the church because she wanted me to.  And I know a lot of men don’t do things like that.  But in spite of everything I do, she is very frustrated because she still thinks I’m selfish and is getting very discouraged because I still can’t see that I’m selfish (and I’m angry because she thinks that.)  What does a man have to do to let a woman know he’s not selfish???! What does being selfish mean to you?


A lot of people (and couples) have wrestled with that one.  When I made a serious commitment to become a Christian, I—like you— had always done a lot of “nice things” for my wife (and other people, too), and I was floored when we started getting more open with each other that she felt that I was selfish—even though I was sincere in wanting to be God’s person.

As I read the Bible and talked honestly to the other Christian men in a small men’s group about this, I learned that there is evidently sort of a “secret control room” in the center of my mind that has one seat (a throne).  And whoever or whatever is sitting on that throne determines all my actionsIf I am sitting in the control seat, then without even knowing it, virtually all of my conscious actions are intended to influence and control the people and situations in my life to make me happy or to enhance the image I want to project that will make people admire me or love me.  And usually the desired outcomes I try to bring about lead to my getting more than my share of their time, attention and love in close relationships.  But I can’t see that I am doing this because I do so many “nice things” for them. 

In my case, I began to see that I was trying to project an image of being smarter, wealthier, sexier, and a better Christian than I felt I really was. 

Then one day after an argument, I recalled a movie, The Wizard of Oz, in which Dorothy, the young girl from Kansas, was in this huge hall in the land of Oz.  She and her new friends (the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion) were standing before a huge frightening holographic image of the great Wizard.  But Toto, Dorothy’s little dog, had run over to the side of the great room and pulled back the curtain, exposing a frumpy little old man sitting at the large control board that controlled the voice and movements of the huge projected image of a wondrously powerful Wizard with a deep booming voice.  The little man (the actual wizard) tried to save himself from the shame of being revealed as only an ordinary man by having the booming voice say, “Don’t look behind that curtain!”  But it was too late.

That’s exactly how I felt when my spiritual mentor helped me pull back the curtain of denial and see that I had been unable (or unwilling) to recognize and deal with my motivations for maneuvering to get outcomes I wanted from people and situations in my life.  I was in denial not only about pretending to be more than I am, and a pretty unselfish husband, but also I had not been able to face that I am inordinately self-centered even as a Christian.

It finally got through to me that becoming a Christian meant putting God in the center control seat (of my life) so that His character revealed in Jesus and His values would determine my actions.  Through study and prayer, but mostly by confessing my Sin of taking God’s role in the center of my own life (and the lives of people close to me) and then surrendering that place to God, I began the reorienting process of making decisions on the basis of what will help God transform me into the loving, giving, culpable, and vulnerable person I believe God made me to be.

And when I began consciously to surrender to God the throne room and control board of my life, I discovered what my wife had been trying to tell me—that just giving her nice clothes and jewelry (although a nice thing to do) also made her a more beautiful trophy wife, part of the larger-than-life image of myself I was unconsciously trying to project as a successful male in America.

I was horrified to discover this and it was only the beginning of discovering the double meaning of a lot of my “unselfish” behavior.  This does not mean that I didn’t love my wife, or that I didn’t want to give her nice things because I love her.  (Because that was true.)  But it does mean that until I am willing to face, confess and make amends for my self-centered taking of God’s place by trying to ‘shape’ the world around me into my image, I can never be the intimate, happy and loving man I was made to be—and now want with all my heart to be.

This has already meant a revolution in the way I live my days and nights.  In order to know how to love the people around me, I am having to learn to listen to them and discover what I can do to help them become all they want to be—instead of insisting they play their parts in my drama of being the Wizard of Austin, Texas.”

Lord, I want to see more clearly where I am occupying the throne in my life in Your place.  Help me to become aware when I am on that throne.  Show me how to get out of Your way, and how you would have me love and free the people you put in my life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”

Mt. 5:5, The Message


“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

Mt 5:8, The Message


Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me, awake and ready for me each morning, alert and responsive as I start my day’s work. When you find me, you find life, real life, to say nothing of God’s good pleasure.

Prov. 8:32 The Message


The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love.  And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.”   

Teilhard de Chardin

2 comments | Add One

  1. David - Red Letter Believers - 03/2/2010 at 2:10 pm

    When I look in the mirror, i’m not very happy with what I see. its not the gray and the wrinkles…its the bitterness, the spitefulness, the pride.

    Great post. Thank you for the reminder.

    David, Red Letter Believers blog

  2. Chareedet - 03/7/2010 at 12:53 pm


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