O'Connor could see how self-absorbed we can be and the spiritual malady that is most devastating is the constant seeing of ourselves "as what I want to be." We look anywhere but at the humble truth and unfortunately that keeps us from looking to God who alone can lift us up by His grace and shape us as He desires. We must seek to grow in holiness but seek this end by keeping our gaze upon He who is holy. The moment when we make our work - including the work of our souls - our own is when we stifle that growth. For many, O'Connor writes, this is "such a delightful state of coma" and they choose as it were to be an eternal embryo.
“It does not take much to make us realize what fools we are, but the little it takes is long in coming. I see my ridiculous self by degrees. One thing I have seen this week—it has been a peculiar week—is my constant seeing of myself as what I want to be. Not the fulfillment of what I want to be, but the right genre, the correct embryo in the correct beast. The consequence of such a delightful state of coma will naturally be the eternal embryo—and eternal in no false sense. I must grow. I have a right I believe to show such interest in myself as long as my interest is in my immortal soul and what keeps it pure. “Save to the pure and in their purest hour,” Coleridge wrote—the gift of imagination functioned only then, only for those. Start with the soul and perhaps the temporal gifts I want to exercise will have their chance; and if they do not, I have the best in my hands already, the only thing really needed. God must be in all my work.”
Excerpt From: Flannery O’Connor. “A Prayer Journal.”