Lately the same theme has been coming back to me in different ways — through conversations, through sermons, through music and even through some of those stupid Facebook picture posts, which I can’t seem to get enough of. I’ve been struggling through a lot lately. I’ve been looking for direction, acceptance, love… And it’s not as though it isn’t readily available to me. I just tend to look for it from the wrong places.
I guess this starts with some conversations I’ve had with my best friend. I’m feeling very frustrated because so many things I’ve been hoping and waiting for don’t seem to be happening. I’m tired of the waiting. I’m tired of the holding pattern. He’s been very patient in giving me advice and just listening to me whine. He reminds me all the time that even though I often feel alone and unloved, I am neither.
In the course of these conversations, I’ve gotten some clarity about why I think this. I’ve come to realize that it’s because the people I go to for love and acceptance mostly judge me and try to fit me into what they want me to be. This has been my reality pretty much my entire life. I’m not getting into the specifics on this because it’s too personal, and there are some things that not everyone needs to know. But that is a pretty good generalization of the message I’ve been fed from many sources.
Last week I went to Hillsong, a church I’ve visited a couple times. It was a good week for me to be there. The speaker talked about how people want to be loved and how they will do many things to feel and be loved, but instead find themselves in a hopeless place. This is because they don’t look to God, the one source of true love. Instead they look to counterfeit sources. And I realized that this a pretty good description of my struggles in the past few months, if not longer. Maybe my whole life.
To add to that, today at my church, Robert our pastor spoke about finding our contentment and joy in God. Our lesser gods, which are the things we look to because we think they’ll give us contentment, are only distractions that make us discontent in our lives. The two messages kind of fit together in my life.
I’ve been looking so long for love and acceptance among people. People who have wanted me to do things their way. They’ve tried to fit me into a mold, how they think I should look or behave. And I don’t think it’s with bad intentions. Most of them really do want the best for me (I can think of only one who probably doesn’t…), but the person they think I should be, and the person God created me to be are not the same.
I’ve been looking to the counterfeit sources of love, and they have become my lesser gods. These lesser gods keep me from becoming the person I’m supposed to be, and so I feel discontent and restless.
It’s gotten really exhausting trying, essentially, to fight against God. And it’s a battle I have no dream of winning. It’s like an ant trying to push a Mack truck. The only thing you’ll get from the effort is tired, really. To try to become someone who is not me, just to please the people in my life, has the feeling of spinning my tires in mud. Running in a hamster wheel. I can continue these comparisons forever, but I won’t.
The one thing I’ve come to see, through the help of a couple sermons, several conversations with my best friend, and a conversation with my Easter host tonight, is that there is only one person I need to please, and that is God. And in doing so, I will not only become the best version of myself, I’ll also finally become content and have peace in my life, regardless of the situation.
The irony of this entire struggle is that this is something I’ve known all along. In fact, it’s the essence of my favorite CS Lewis quote, which I’ve read dozens of times.
Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom, Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.
Easter is a day we Christians celebrate resurrection. Today I put to death the misunderstandings and lies, the molds people have tried unsuccessfully to fit me into, the lesser gods of counterfeit love in my life, and in doing so finally wake my real self from the dead.