Wholeness is found by focusing outside of ourselves, not into ourselves. I am sorry to say, humanity is a huge, black hole of need. On our own, we are nothing but a sucking vortex of need. But God calls us out of ourselves to save us from ourselves. Thank GOD!
I have been overwhelmed at the Lord’s purposes in my life. In my early life, even just after being saved, I struggled with the gnawing ache of need. I wanted so badly to fill this void and eradicate the pain. Yet all that I did to pacify it still failed to resolve it. Nothing I did in myself solved the void. Some might say, “Jesus is the answer to fill that void. He comes to be in me what I seek to find.” And I would agree with this wholeheartedly. But there is something more than Christ indwelling that has made the difference in me.
My Needs: Belly Button Gazing
By nature, I can be a little melancholy. And my sanguineness coupled with this just made me a little more demonstrative in how that was expressed. I remember sitting for hours in my dark apartment in Orlando, all by myself, just weeping. The ache in my soul was almost too much to bear. It wasn’t that I was sad with my life; I had simply planted my face so deeply in my own belly button that I didn’t see anything but ME. Melancholy self-focus—I contend that this is a recipe for destruction.
God allowed this morbid self-reflection for a season. And I chose to let it be. I didn’t fight the ache; I simply allowed it to be until God dealt with it. And deal with it He did. How you might ask? First, it was by lifting my face from myself and calling me to focus on sheep and goats.
Farm life is relentless, thankless, and probably the very thing that saved my life. I had to get out of myself and look with an eye to give, not receive. Hours and hours are poured into the job of a shepherd. Every day, rain or shine, sickness or in health, you have to go… Sheep are dependent on you for their very lives. Years of this transformed my heart. Not everyone is called to shepherd, but I know He does lead us outside ourselves to save us from ourselves. Obsessive introspection and self-focus are murderous to our souls.
My whole process has since graduated from animals to people. Now I have people I shepherd and love. They rely on me and my attention is required to be on them. But it isn’t my life that I rely on to meet the need. It is Christ’s Life coming through my life which is able to be Life to others. I am created to be a fountain of His Life, not a Dead Sea of self-focus.
Do not be preoccupied with your own things, but rather with the things of others.
Philippians 2:4 RGT
In my next post, I will discuss the saving of Henri Nouwen, a wounded healer, who exemplifies this process of coming out of self-focus.