We just found out a few days ago that we have until the end of April in self-isolation. We are three weeks in and have at least four more to go. I am seeing an extreme response from some people during this time of isolation. They are consumed with how it is affecting them. They are lonely and frustrated and want everyone to know.
I want us to enter this month with intentionality and purpose. Let’s not spend the whole month complaining or thinking only about how hard this is. Let’s try to use this time to prepare for what God is bringing after this is over and make ourselves more like Jesus.
One way that we can prepare is to take a good, honest look at ourselves. We normally run around so busy, that we only give ourselves enough time to look in the mirror. We want to look presentable on the outside but often neglect examining our inside. While we have the time, I want us to look at our character and motives. We need to understand that there is a difference between being self-aware and self-obsessed.
Definition – excessively preoccupied with one’s own life and circumstances; thinking only about oneself.
I doubt many people would admit to being obsessed with themselves! It’s not a fun realization. I think that being self-obsessed is where the enemy wants us to hang out right now. Since we are stuck inside our homes, it would be easy for us to get overly introspective, only thinking about our lives. It’s easy to get into the “Look at how bad I have it; I’m single and stuck at home alone; I am married and can’t stand my spouse; I never wanted to be a homeschool parent and now I have to do it, and I’m working” rut.
“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us,” (Romans 12:3 NLT).
Please hear my heart- there is zero judgement in this. I know this is hard and I am not making fun or light of anyone’s situation. The Word clearly says to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). What I am saying is that Jesus is supposed to be Who we run to when things are hard. We are supposed to bring Him our problems and leave them there.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly,” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG).
If you are in a place where things are dark and dim, run to Jesus. Those last few words show us God’s heart for us: to live FREELY and LIGHTLY. He is our true Source. Our circumstances are not our identity. They don’t get to change our personality. We are children of God and have authority over how we respond to what happens to us.
If you feel like you are struggling with being self-obsessed, here are my suggestions:
- Love on someone else – write a letter, message someone, buy someone’s order behind you in the drive through
- Go outside and get some fresh air
- Get in the Word
A couple of mornings ago, I woke up in a total funk. I had some weird dreams that threw me off. I hadn’t been sleeping well anyway so, I was exhausted. It was bad enough that I almost made some coffee… If you know me at all, you know that’s bad! I do not drink coffee. I finally got myself up and worshipped with my girls. Just moving my body and worshipping with them immediately brightened my mood, and lifted the heaviness off of me.
Definition – having conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings.
This is the one we want! Being self-aware is taking a healthy evaluation or inventory of where we are and how we are doing.
“Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. ‘Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?'” (Matthew 16:24-25 MSG).
Not the most encouraging scripture, right?! I love that first line: “Jesus went to work on His disciples…” He has work to do on all of us.
My friend got ahold of me after the first week of homeschooling and asked me how I was doing. I kind of just looked into the screen at her blankly. I was so exhausted that I hadn’t taken a moment to figure out where I was with all of this. I was just in survival mode trying to keep my kiddos occupied while pastoring our people. Her asking made me stop and process. I pulled out my journal and searched my heart. How am I really doing? I’ve been telling everyone else to not be afraid and trust God. Was I there myself? Those kinds of questions are hard but so good for us.
I just read Battlefield of the Mind and You are Free last week so, I have freedom on my brain. We need Jesus to come into the places of our hearts, where we hide to avoid facing pain. We need Him to speak into the areas of unforgiveness, trauma, fear, and doubt.
All of us have places that need work and we have the time to do the work right now. If you want to be more self-aware, here are my suggestions:
- Journal. Get your thoughts and feelings out of your head and heart and onto paper. Just seeing them will help you process and heal.
- Talk to Jesus and then LISTEN to what He has to say. The Holy Spirit has so much that He wants to accomplish in us. We need to know what He sees in us.
- Ask someone else what they see in you. This one is probably the hardest, but will be so fruitful if you choose to be brave and try it. My husband and I regularly check in with each other. This is simple (and PAINFUL) but so helpful. We ask each other straight up: “What can I be doing better right now? Do you see anything in me that doesn’t look like Jesus? Where do you think I need to grow? Am I affecting our home in a negative way?” Warning: you better not ask unless you really want the answer! There isn’t a soul alive who sees your yuck better than your spouse, especially after being stuck in the house with you for a month! If you aren’t married, ask someone you trust who will tell you the truth.
We have an amazing opportunity to grow in this season. Let’s choose to focus on doing the work of becoming more self-aware and refuse to become self-obsessed. When we do, we’re going to come out looking more like Jesus.