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Sacrifice On the Altar of Ego

I love Carolyn Arend’s “Altar of Ego”. It’s a song whose lyrics I need to think about often. Last week I was thrilled with the response to my post about the emphasis placed on motherhood and being a wife especially within the church. I started with five words that define me and ended with a question for everyone. Do we have an identity that we put too much emphasis on?

This was intentional. I had a follow-up post planned. More supplement than counter to my motherhood post.

Before children, I went on a church retreat. I had one of those deep, soul-searching conversations with a woman who is a bit older that me. We discussed the topic of working mothers and the decision of whether or not to work outside of the home. She was a working mother who put away her suits and heels to stay at home.

At the time I hadn’t decided what to do but going part time was the most attractive option. My employer prides itself on work-life balance and makes it very easy to work part-time. In fact, many women in my company have opted for this status while raising children. The woman I interviewed with was a part-time worker, and I kept that option in the back of my mind.

Not long after the retreat. I came to a point where I had to lay down my job and give it to God. Not only the stresses but also the satisfaction and even identity I drew from it. I’d love to say from then on, I kept it in perspective, but that’s not the case. I struggle. Often. Being an engineer is part of who I am. An unusual part and tied to an accomplishment that was difficult to achieve. However, it is not entirely who I am.

As hard as it was, this action and subsequent actions of fully relying on God with respect to work has been life-changing. I simply don’t stress nearly as much about my job as I once did. It has also helped me keep a better perspective on where my job fits into my life.

Right now I’m reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. It’s perhaps the most challenging book I’ve ever read. It digs beyond superficial expressions of faith to defining what following Christ really means based on Jesus’s own words. Maybe one day I will be able to identi


photo by Gretchen E.K. Engel


photo by Gretchen E.K. Engel

fy myself by one word. disciple (lower case). Probably due to my Wesleyan (Methodist then Nazarene) background, my faith is closely tied to the pursuit of holiness. I’m nowhere close to my destination but I’m moving forward. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” (1 Corinthians 9:24, ESV). I’m training for a half-marathon. While I won’t even place in that race, I get the way and reason we’re supposed to aim for winning the prize in our walk with Christ.


About Gretchen E K Engel

Chemical engineer by day, spec fiction writer by night

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