On one level I think it is a very good thing.
How many tragic (powerful, often, but tragic) stories unfold primarily from the foolishness of hubris? The idea that everything needed is already within. Including wisdom.
How much grief could be avoided by following good advice?
One of my favorite lines is the one that goes, Sure “experience is the best teacher,” but if you can learn second-hand the tuition is cheaper.
I’ve practically made it my life’s work to learn everything second-hand. At least at first.
That said there are people with the opposite problem. Those who don’t trust themselves at all.
While at first this might seem the solution to the problem of hubris, it can’t be, because of the simple reality that no one can be as invested in you as you.
G.K. Chesterton in his book Orthodoxy posits that humility used to mean doubting one’s self, which at least has the potential to motivate working harder (i.e. to prove or validate one’s self). More recently, he says, humility has come to be doubting one’s purpose, resulting in not working at all (i.e., freezing up).
He calls it the difference between a spur and a nail in the shoe.
I have wrestled with the latter question a lot. And felt ineffective; not because I’ve particularly been thwarted, but because I’ve not fully invested and worked. I hold back, still looking around for the right pool to jump in before I hold my nose.
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When I have the (sometimes) conflicting spheres of ability, interest and responsibility; all ranged out before me, all under a ticking clock, I end up with something like anxiety.
From my conception of God, I know I am not responsible to make up my own reality, and in my view of his sovereignty, I expect he has equipped and prepared me to do something unique.
C.S. Lewis provides one of my favorite quotes on this:
God makes each soul unique. If He had no use for all these differences I do not see why He should have created more souls than one. Be sure the ins and outs of your individuality are no mystery to Him; and one day they will no longer be a mystery to you.
And it seems that I must regularly remind myself of this.
Because what is important to me hasn’t changed.
What is changing is the distractions and responsibilities that deflect me from what I still believe is important.
Have I said what that is?
That thing that’s been around since before children, I can apply with them and expect to still be important when they’re raising their own families?
It matters because I don’t know of any other (let alone better) way to train the imagination.
And whether you ultimately make decisions from your mind, emotions, or convictions, all of those capacities are informed and trained by imagination.
I have no doubt that to neglect this foundation is dangerous.