I’ve had plenty of struggles in my own life, just like everybody else. But perhaps my biggest struggle is getting over myself. While I’m usually a pretty big fan of myself, if I am honest, I seem to alternate between periods of self-loathing (thinking I am not good enough) and periods of self-importance (thinking nobody else is). There is no medium. I’m either awful or I’m perfect, depending on the time of day.
Does this happen to you? Do you somehow feel completely inadequate
and also completely perfect? I think you call this particular condition
“being human,” and it is the strangest feeling. When I feel these two
urges at the same time, I know that I am focusing too much on myself,
for I am obsessing over my own faults and my own strengths. The cure for
this kind of lunacy is to get outside of myself, to go help somebody,
to spend time in prayer listening to God rather than my usual mode,
which involves telling God what it is that I need God to do for me.
It is difficult isn’t it? This business of getting outside yourself
is one of the hardest things in life. I was reading recently in Mike
Slaughter’s book, Momentum for Life, in which he says that in our “instant satisfaction culture, we want the CliffsNotes
version of God: happiness, success, and fulfilling relationships. We
want ‘easy’ and ‘now,’ and we try to make God work that way, too.”
The problem with this kind of CliffsNotes version of God is
that a) it does not do justice to the wideness of God’s mercy, and b) it
is less about God than it is about me. Like Veruca Salt in the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,
I “don’t care how: I want it now.” I want to be happy, I want to
successful, I want my life and my ministry to make me a fulfilled
There is only one thing missing from these desires: me! I want all
these things, and I want God to provide them for me, but I don’t want to
put in the work to make them happen. I get upset if I pray for
something, and it doesn’t happen! But God is not a genie. There is no
rule that if you rub the lamp (pray) you will receive your wishes. You
must work in order to be fulfilled.
This is one of the central truths of following Jesus: you must put in
the work, but you must not assume you are working for yourself. God
will work in partnership with you. This is a pretty hefty
responsibility, since it means that not only do you have something to
say about your own fulfillment, but you also have something to do about
the problems of the world. Mike Slaughter also says in his book that you
are the only bank account that God has, after all.
There is much to be done! Let’s get busy!
Question: How are you being called to work in partnership with God?
(This post was first posted at Devotions by Young Adults for Young Adults,
a project of the General Board of Discipleship of the UMC. I am the
featured writer this month, and you will find a new post each