This last month has been extremely trying and I have fallen ill twice just in that period of time. The reasons for this include that such as me getting a job, then realizing how poor my time management skills were, then leading to exhausting my body to major debilitation and as a result launching myself on a turbulent emotional downward spiral. Sounds rough doesn’t it? Well, yes, it was. However, I have learned so much in the last month not just about my poor time management skills but also my poor self-management skills. I know this idea is extremely vague but I will elaborate.
Oh, it is not emphasized how important “self” is, and how taking care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually is what first enables one to be able to pour out love selflessly into others. We are to be full, not empty when reaching out to others in our life. I received a wake-up call when one week I found myself piling on the responsibility and having two meltdowns that week that were not tipped off necessarily from the schedule itself but from social situations. I was feeling burned out and hoped that I would be completely satisfied by relying on friends to fill me up again. So after the last two crazy weeks, the Lord suddenly placed a sort of Proverb in my mind and I wrote it on my hand to remind myself. Here is what I wrote:
“Reach out in fullness, not out of emptiness.”
This little proverb has proved to challenge me in every area of my life, in all of my relationships, positions and obligations that I encounter or seek. This initially applied to a more intimate matter, and I will be vague but honest. I fancied someone and was seeking to have a friendship with this person… after much frustration and blowing things out of proportion I ended up becoming emotionally wounded. Not really because of the person, but because of how I approached the friendship. Even though on the outside I might have seemed casual and mild, in reality in my own heart (something not realized until I wrote that little proverb on my hand) I was acting ou of desperation, and out of emptiness as I fought for this person’s attention and affection. I expected some sort of fulfillment friendship, even if I was blind to the prospects of their returning any inkling of care or affection. That person’s indifference caused an emotional breakdown and many tears were shed. I had been reaching out to that person to fill a void I had in my own heart for perfect love, instead of our friendship and fellowship simply being an outpouring of Christ’s love that was already full inside of me. So, in the week seceding I said to myself constantly, “Reach out in fullness, not out of emptiness.”
The other aspect of my life that this principle became more revealed to was in my obligations and responsibilities. My crazy week from Hell (excuse the language) a few weeks ago put me over the edge and its insurmountable stress was not made sense of until a week later. I wanted to try all of these different things, and volunteer in multiple areas and I was running around all day not to get back to my dorm until nine or ten at night where I proceeded to study with half a brain until two or three in the morning for over a week straight. I was physically drained which led to my distorting many social situations and causing an influx of emotional turbulence. I was extremely sensitive, easily offended and hurt during this week. I reflected days later why I had gotten myself so involved and entangled in many social and serving obligations and even more why I felt like I had to be so involved. I realized, once again, that I was reaching out in emptiness. When I wanted to get involved in something I was reaching out hoping that being involved in this one thing would finally stabilize and deepen my spiritual life. Do not get me wrong, it is great to serve others… however I began to question my own motives. Was I serving others out of the fullness Christ’s love within me? Or was I serving others because I felt that this activity would bring me peace in my spirit?
As I realized this truth I began to receive wisdom through the things that I heard in the days following. First, what was uncovered was that there was a tug-of-war going on inside of me where I wanted to do the will of God but at the same time my own will was tugging at me. That old mindset that I had before I committed my heart to God – that lie – that human affection could somehow give my yearning heart peace was tugging me in the opposite direction and driving my to make decisions that would overall hurt me and make my focus on God foggy. As a response I listed out things that I desire, whether it be a healthy desire or simply a desire that burns within me and then put what it is I know God wants for me.
The other thing is that I was looking at ministry in the wrong way. I went about ministry (or serving others) as a method of filling myself. I went about it with an empty hearted attitude and expected to get filled. I should have been walking in the fullness of Christ and been pouring into others. That’s what ministry is about: pouring into others.
No matter how much we may deny it, we reach out to others -friends, family, boyfriends, girlfriends – with an expectation that they will completely fill the desire we have in our hearts for perfect love made complete and tangible. God definitely intended for us to have relationships and commune with one another; however, I believe that he created us to only be completely satisfied in Him and Him alone. The fact that we still sin, separates us from ever fully experiencing with every sense the love of Christ completely consuming us until we walk through those pearly gates and into God’s everlasting arms in eternity. This love that we feel and experience through Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit while in our earthly bodies is but a foretaste of how it will be in heaven. This is our hope, that we will be united in complete love with Christ.
…more to be added…