So I was feeling like crap the other day. I was depressed and didn't feel like I was spiritually growing at all (the very reason, I thought, that I had come to this project in the first place). It had been like that for a couple days leading up to this particular day, and I was starting to question why I had even come on this project. I worked all day and disliked my job. I read my Bible and got nothing out of it. I even attended a project wide meeting with a famous Crusade speaker (Rick James), and I sat there listening to him bored almost to tears, critically picking apart his sermon while he gave it, and literally rolling my eyes at the obvious points he made. I felt lonely. I felt under-appreciated. I was annoyed at people. I was generally uninterested in my surroundings. I was in a constant state of daydreaming about the future; completely caring less about what was happening in my present. I knew on a subconscious level that the problem was an inward one, but I didn't really know what that problem was or particularly cared either. Probably because, on some sick level of my conscious, I enjoyed being like this. However, as I was reminiscing about the past, I remembered back to the last time I felt approximately this way. Sometime in the last winter I had gone through a very similar slump and was only rescued by a certain realization God gave me about my state of mind. Suddenly the reason for my current ennui became very apparent to me. Read this paragraph again and take a wild guess why I felt the way I did...
That's right, it was all about me. Everything I did, said, thought, participated in, even my spiritual walk, had become all about me. What had begun by the Spirit I was now trying to accomplish on my own, in other words, I was being an idiot (Galatians 3:3). What can I get out of this situation? What can I learn from this passage? Why am I not having a good time? Why do people not bow down the moment I walk by to kiss the tops of my shoes? What even went into the thought process involved in the creation of that last sentence? All about me.
Sure, it probably started innocently. What is this lesson trying to teach me? How should I live my life? How big of a church will God give me if I become a pastor? How does the group I'm currently hanging out with perceive me? Do they think I'm as funny or intelligent as I think I'm being right now? And you can quickly see the escalation. Soon my thoughts about myself were completely surrounding me. Pride crept in, and in no time I was so absorbed with myself that I lost sight of the reason for my existence and couldn't help but be depressed. I had given up the solid ground of God's word and the truths He has revealed to me through it, and I had started relying on my own "feelings" to conduct how I approached any given situation I was in. Logically then, my self-worth swung back and forth on a crazy pendulum from making much of myself and little of others (and thereby convincing me that I had little to gain in any given situation and was wasting time) to questioning if I had any worth at all, and my depression followed.
With this God given realization in hand, I began to fight back against my prideful indulgences. I even had to refine the little questions slightly in my head. What is this lesson trying to teach me about God, and how does God want me to live my life in light of the truth it presents about Him? How is God using me to impact those I come in contact with right now? Am I reflecting God's grace to those around me? These questions keep my mind and my heart from running away to sacrifice more God given time to the alter of myself that I create when my self-absorption envelopes me. (Which is more often than I like to admit, though rarely do I slide this far...)
Most importantly though, when I stop making much of me and start focusing my glory elsewhere, I seem to inevitably end up aiming it at God. Whether I'm serving another, listening to a sermon uncritically with an open mind, reading my bible, or just spending time thinking, I end up making much of God, and that gives me a joy and a satisfaction that can't be found anywhere else. For, if the purpose of my existence is to glorify God, how can I find satisfaction or meaning solely in myself? This world is about Him, history is about Him, my own life is about Him, so when I start surrendering my thoughts to myself, I'm surrendering to something less than eternally fulfilling which can only leave me ultimately unsatisfied and depressed.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment, and the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)
"The problem with a living sacrifice is that it can crawl off the altar." - Anonymous