I’ve had a rough week. I have lacked the inspiration and drive to write and share my story.
Or so I thought.
The theme of my life this week hit me hard several times. It hit me in moments of frustration as I reached and reached for inspiration. It hit me as I read my bible and devotionals and ached for peace. It hit me as people came to me in my alone time for comfort and confinement. It hit me- I am called to live outside myself.
This thought is completely contradictory to society and the American culture. We live in a society that is me, my, and mine. And we are evolving into an even more self-indulgent, self-centered clan of people. When we aren’t consumed with our own lives and trials, we are seemingly working to impress others with our lives. This is a part of the American lifestyle, however this is not the lifestyle I am called to live-this is not the lifestyle we are called to live.
The other morning I was meditating and desperately seeking encouragement through the pages of God’s word. I was so beside myself with my anxiety quickly taking control of my thoughts and then slowly manifesting into my actions. I had enough- I was overwhelmed by my own emotions and the circumstances I was facing. I was on my balcony at this time and I left my phone inside to limit distractions (yes, I reference a paper bible). I couldn’t focus. In my attempts to soothe my anxiety, I went inside and grabbed my phone. I opened up my daily devotional on my phone hoping the reading for the day was relevant to what I was feeling.
My Love Like Jesus devotional helped none with what I was feeling. The reading for the morning was simply titled “Community”. I literally rolled my eyes and asked God how this was going to help me-thinking he would put exactly what I needed in front of me. I decided to read it anyway since it was the devotional for that day. It was a story about a lady who was going through a difficult time in her life when her brother-who she referred to as her “rock”-took his own life. She survived this devastating time only through the love and support of people in her church and community. These people came around her and did what family was supposed to do. They cooked for her. They cleaned. They drove her around. They stayed the night with her. This horrific event transpired right around Christmas time so they also decorated her apartment for the holiday season, after taking her on a little getaway. I closed the devotional app in pretty much self-pity. I thought to myself “I need something. I need a word for me”. In my hand, I felt my phone vibrate so in complete frustration from no relief, I looked and it was a friend of mine.
She was telling me about how the last week for her family had been really tough. She made it clear she had been in need of prayer and life speaking words over her family. So I excused my self-pity and I started condemning Satan, calling him a liar and condemning him to hell and speaking the word of God into her situation.
She was very grateful. She told me she wish she would reach out more to people when she was in need of encouragement, but said instead she regresses inward and doesn’t know how to reach out very well. Instantly, I thought of my devotional. I used my whole devotional from that morning to minster to her about the importance of being a part of a community and how community can help us stay lifted and it was there so we can have help in those times of need. We said good bye, agreed we would reach out in our times of need, and ended our conversation.
Instantly I felt lifted. Instantly the edge was taken off from my anxiety. Instantly, I started to focus on what I had to tackle that day. Instantly my issues and anxiety took their proper place in my life-under God’s dominion.
That same devotional I sucked my teeth and rolled my eyes at-that same devotional that wasn’t giving me what I needed-that same devotional that I thought was totally irrelevant to my life at the moment was the same devotional that helped me step outside myself and minister to someone else. Not only was I a vessel God used to encourage someone else, but by me stepping outside myself and lending my attention to someone else and their situation, the door was opened for the relief I needed-for my healing. Through encouraging someone else, I was able to take my eyes off my issues and let God work. When I look back, I get giddy because that morning three beautiful things happened. 1. I helped someone through the the word of God 2. I got help for myself through helping someone 3. God taught me a lesson: sometimes to receive my help and healing, I have to step outside myself.
You are called to do the same. We get so caught up in what we have going on between the building and investment in our lives to the disappointments and storms, that we start thinking it’s us and only about us and we can’t help anyone else until we help us.
Truth is we are called to serve others even in the midst of our own storms. We aren’t called to be so in tuned with our problems and our world that we get out of sync with God’s spirit and how he is leading us. There is an entire world outside of ourselves and our situations- a hurting world that goes day in and day out without yielding to one another. We are called to do the exact opposite and care for each other the same way we would care for ourselves.
That morning on the balcony, I was so distracted by my shortcomings and emotions that I almost missed out on my own blessing. God was trying to bless not only my friend, but also me. He was trying to do something bigger and better than me through my anxiety and discontent. I had to be open to sharing those moments outside of myself-I had to be open to God’s mysteriousness.
Through community, God relieved two completely separate personal issues. He soothed two souls with one word-we just had to step outside ourselves.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.