“You don’t have to be so down, you know.”
Perhaps I should’ve been offended, except I knew my husband was right. I’d been in a funk for a while. For no particular reason. Though I could’ve named numerous “causes”, I had to admit, I, not my circumstances, lay at the root of my gloom.
Bit by bit, one thought merging into another, I’d become self-obsessed, and it was making me miserable.
Our world tells us to focus on ourselves, to take care of number one, promising this is the key to happiness and fulfillment, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. The more I’m fixated on boring ol’ Jennifer Slattery—what I want or don’t want, what’s happened or hasn’t happened, what’s hard or disappointing—the more miserable I become. But when I take my eyes off myself, step out of my tiny little world and into someone else’s, the miraculous happens.
I experience joy. Peace. Fulfillment. And incredible intimacy with my Savior as He loves others through me. As some of you know, I routinely deal with pain and fatigue. When I was first diagnosed, I slipped into a funk, thinking of how difficult my days were and how unpleasant my condition.
For a while, I retreated further and further into my own, miserable world. That’s what self-obsession does—it inevitably leads to isolation, and often, bitterness soon follows. But then, I began to listen as others shared their struggles. Of arthritis. Cancer. MS. Clinical depression. And I realized, we’ve all got something, and in fact, many were suffering much more than I.
Over time, and by God’s grace, my view began to shift, and my world began to widen as love for others squelched my self-obsession. Allowing room for joy and contentment to grow.
In 1 Corinthians 10:24, Paul says, “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others” (NIV)
I’m convinced, not only is this a command and a tangible way to live out the great commission, but it’s also a huge piece of grabbing hold of joy.
Self-obsession is perhaps the most destructive, most insidious type of idolatry. There’s only one way to break this, and that’s by turning our view upward and outward—onto Jesus and those He loves.
I’ll still have down days on occasion, and there will be times when I regress to self-obsession, but I’m learning the more I lay my life—my wants, expectations, hurts and disappointments—down, the more I die to myself so that Christ may live unhindered through me, the more I experience the full and abundant life Christ died to give me.
*Please note, this post is not related to clinical depression. There are those with biochemical mental health challenges who need medical intervention. If that’s you, get help.
Let’s talk about this! Do you ever tend to self-obsess? What’s normally the result? Have you ever, while in the middle of a period of melancholy, focused on others? What happened? Share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (R) Copyright (c)1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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And some fun news! Coming soon:
Dancing in the Rain:
On the verge of college graduation, Loni Parker seeks employment as a music teacher, but no one will hire her since she’s blind. Or so she thinks. To take her mind off her troubles, her roommate invites her to spring retreat at Camp Hope in the gorgeous North Carolina mountains. Unbeknown to Loni, Michael Ackerman, the director, is an ex-con responsible for the accident that caused her blindness. When Loni warms up to camp and wants to return as a summer counselor, Michael opposes the idea, which only makes Loni want to prove herself all the more. Though she doesn’t expect to fall for the guy. Still, her need for independence and dream of teaching win out, taking her far away from her beloved Camp Hope . . . and a certain director.
Camp director Michael Ackerman recognizes Lonie instantly and wants to avoid her at all costs. Yet, despite the guilt pushing him from her, a growing attraction draws him to the determined woman. She sees more with her heart than the average person does with his eyes. But her presence also dredges up a long-buried anger toward his alcoholic father that he’d just as soon keep hidden. When circumstances spin out of control, Michael is forced to face a past that may destroy his present.
Releasing the first week of June!