The Death of the Me Monster

BY JOEL FITZPATRICK

A while ago I ran across a great comedy routine. In it Brian Regan riffs on those who he calls Me Monsters. This is a person who must be at the center of every conversation. You know this person. Every story you tell he has to tell one that is better, everything you own he owns two.

The first time I watched this video I instantaneously thought of certain people. Then I got into a conversation and I realized that I was a Me Monster! I instantaneously shut up. I denied my recent discovery and went on with my day. But the reality started to nag me I AM A ME MONSTER! I must be the center of conversations; I must be the center of attention. This was a terrifying revelation. What was I going to do? Lets talk about me more…

What drives this desire in each of us to be the center of attention? What feeds the Me Monster within?

Each of us feels the need for acceptance. Each of us has the desire to be affirmed in our existence. We are all in need of love. Each of us has the law within us telling us that we are not good enough, we are not beautiful enough, we are not smart enough and the most scary part about it is we know it is right.[1] So we try and try to find that love and affirmation using any means necessary. We are proud people looking to be affirmed

Some have turned to the Self-Esteem movement to find this affirmation. They desire to hear others affirm them and if they cannot get that affirmation from others they attempt to affirm themselves. (Think Stuart Smally) Recently I have been reading a book about death and dying and the author encapsulates this thought. The author, who is also a hospice doctor, when speaking with a patient who is dying about broken relationships tells the patient to do this,

Before I go, I want to give you an assignment that I want you to practice everyday. It may seem silly, but give it a try. In a quiet time of the day, when you are all alone, or at night when you’re relaxed, lying in bed before sleep, close your eyes and say to yourself ‘I am not a bad person.’… After you’ve mastered ‘I am not a bad person,’ you graduate to ‘I am a good person.’[2]

The author sums it all up on the next page when he told the patient, “You weren’t raised to feel good about yourself just for being who you are.” The doctor touches on something insightful here, we are not raised to think that we are good enough, because we are not. Our works, no matter how good they are or how plenteous they are, just aren’t enough to gain the love we need.

So we go turn to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to show the world that we are really cool, fun people. We post photos of our kids, or tell others about the great restaurant we are eating at, all the while looking for affirmation from others that we desperately need. The law rings out you are not cool enough, you are not good enough, nobody loves you, and we try harder and harder. In his book Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis aptly describes the function of pride as a constant drive for affirmation.

Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next person. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about.[3]

The law at Sinai and the law within both put us in the dock and we are left with the confirmation of what we know is already true, guilty! Tim Keller in his little pamphlet The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness describes the situation like this,

What we are all looking for is an ultimate verdict that we are important and valuable. We look for that ultimate verdict every day in all the situations and people around us. And that means that every single day, we are on trial. Every day we put ourselves back in the courtroom.[4]

So what are we to do? How can we put to death the Me Monster inside that is constantly looking for affirmation? Where do we go to hear the “ultimate verdict” that tells us we are loved and valued more than we can ever imagine?

We look to the life, the cross and the empty tomb. All throughout Christ’s time on earth he was declaring to us God’s love for his people (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:8). Because of his love for us his perfect life is given to us to that we don’t have to worry about whether or not God accepts us. Because God accepts Christ, and we are united to Christ through Faith, God accepts us. There is no more proving yourself to God or to anyone else because it is “God who justifies” (Rom 8:31ff).

Through his death God handed down the verdict and showered us with his grace and love. On the cross God the Father’s very Son was crucified for you. The one “to whom and through whom all things were created” the one who shared perfect communion with the Father was sacrificed for you, because you are that valuable to him. When Christ dying on the cross uttered, “It is finished” the verdict came in “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” So we no longer need to fear what will happen if we are not good enough, Christ has borne God’s wrath for you, and you are now free from the slavery of sin so that you too can live a life where you try to follow God.

At the empty tomb we see that Christ has already conquered death for you. He went to the grave and descended into hell, FOR YOU! Yes, you are more sinful than you ever dared believe. But in Christ you are more loved than you could ever imagine. And now that death is conquered there is a place for you reserved in heaven, there is an eternal inheritance preserved in heaven FOR YOU! (Jn. 14:1–7)

This truth sets you free from the incessant cycle of trying to prove yourself to yourself, others or God. God has given you all things, and if that is true than every desire you or I have to gain affirmation can be found and satisfied in Christ.

Like Paul, we can say, ‘I don’t care what you think. I don’t even care what I think. I only care about what the Lord thinks.’ And he has said, ‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’, and ‘You are my beloved child in whom I am well pleased’.[5]

This gives us the ability and the power to live new lives, and to be free of the Me Monster within.


[1] Here I am not only speaking of God’s Law as summarized in Love God and Love Neighbor. I am also speaking about the law that is within each of us, that accuses us, that condemns us and the law that society puts on us telling us that we must be something we are not.

[2] Dying Well Ira Byock, M.D. p 104–105

[3] C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity quoted from Tim Keller The freedom of self-forgetfulness p 18.

[4] Tim Keller The freedom of self-forgetfulness p 38

[5] Keller p 4

Joel is the Associate Pastor for Family and Discipleship at North City Presbyterian Church. He and his wife Ruth have been married for 15 years and have two children. Joel has served as a deacon for 12 years, a Ruling Elder for 3 years and is in the process of becoming a Teaching Elder. Joel has a B.S. in Business Administration, and earned his M.Div. from Westminster Seminary California in 2015. 

Twitter @FitziesPorch