What does dying to ourselves mean? It seems like it’s sacrificial giving of ourselves so that we set aside our own wants and needs in consideration of others. Perhaps there’s a more expansive definition I’m not aware of. If that is what it means, how far do we take it? And what are the pitfalls we must avoid?
One pitfall is that we put aside our own needs, but perhaps this indulges the selfish nature of another person-- a child or husband. Then we have died to ourselves, but instead of helping another person on the path to heaven, we’ve done it to their detriment.
A second pitfall is that if we rarely let our wants or needs be known, we’re really denying other people the chance to give to us and to let ourselves be known by others.
Another pitfall I see is the resentment this can cause in others or ourselves. Sometimes we might die to ourselves but it breeds resentment in us. Or as CS Lewis so beautifully illustrates in the Screwtape letters our wanting to be no bother could actually cause others a lot of bother in trying to accommodate us.
This is obviously something essential to our faith, as illustrated by Christ’s own death, but how do we do it right? What aberrations do we need to watch out for? And how important is it? Quite a while ago I was listening to a podcast with an Orthodox and Eastern Catholic, on another subject, but this came up in passing, and they said that there isn’t quite as much emphasis placed on sacrificing yourself in their traditions as there is with Roman Catholics. I have no way to verify that, but I thought it was interesting.