I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking here comes another admonition to make yourself number one in a culture already deluged in narcissism and love of self above all else. Forget about other people and their needs because it’s all about you! Yeah those people do exist, but I don’t think they are a majority. In fact, I think most of us are the exact opposite. Recently I had the most unusual insight concerning our personal happiness and incredibly it involved making yourself a priority.
I know it sounds selfish and swims uphill against all we’ve been taught about sublimating our needs for others. It definitely challenges our well-worn “Christian” virtues suggesting we always place ourselves last in line. But, I think there’s some honesty to it we may not have considered before, mainly because of what we have been taught. And, while selfishness is naturally frowned upon, making your own needs a priority isn’t really selfish at all.
You my friend are the only you, you have got. You’ve got one you. There’s no two you’s requiring that you share you. When it comes to you there is just you. When you do things that make you unhappy, you are doing it to “you” alone. When you make choices based on what other people think and what other people say that disagree with what you think and what you say, you are lying to “you.” When you endeavor to live up to other’s expectations for you while not honoring your own expectations for you, you are not taking care of you. When you try so hard not to hurt other people’s feelings and to protect other’s feelings, while running roughshod against your own feelings or worse denying your own feelings, you are only hurting you. You are the only you, you have been given and you have a sacred responsibility to so love and care for you, that you will naturally and willingly love and care for others.
When it comes to serving God I think people have gotten it all wrong. God does not require that we give until it hurts or that we burn ourselves out in service for other people. Nor does He expect us to sacrifice ourselves and our own happiness to make sure others are happy. Religion may have told you that, but God never did. Instead the natural order is that God blesses us and in proportion to that blessing, we bless others. The happier and more well taken care of I am, the more likely I am to help you. Oh sure, I can help you when I have needs too, but the real joy and love behind it will be missing. Think about it in terms of giving. The more I have, the more I have to give. Yes, I can give when I have little but when I have been abundantly blessed, I want to give abundantly. The same principle applies to speaking God’s Word. The proportion of how blessed I am will directly correlate to how much I want to tell other people about God. You don’t have to tell super blessed and joyful people to go out and witness for the Lord. Their joy already got them out there. But, unhappy, unblessed folks will need to be prodded and goaded before they will they go. Do you see it? Get yourself blessed first and stop acting like it’s an imposition on God or something and something you dare not believe for in your life. It’s not selfish, you are the only you, you have got!
Making yourself a priority is about slowing down from your busy and frenetic pace and daring to get back in touch with yourself. (See, even that sounded selfish…) Deep down who are you and what do you need to be happy? What things in life paint a smile on your face and add energy to your steps? In your interactions with others are you with people you genuinely love and care about or are you “making it work” with drinks and fake smiles, playing the role until they go away? What goes through your mind on your way to work? What sadness or frustration have you been ignoring for years? What life flashes through your mind on those rare occasions and why can’t you live that life now? What drastic change or revolution might occur in your existence if you stopped being afraid to allow yourself to matter at least as much as you make everyone else matter?
The difference between being selfish and making yourself a priority is that you are not the only vote, but your vote counts as much as everyone else’s does. It’s not giving and loving and kind to get to the place where your vote doesn’t count. With God everyone wins. They matter and you matter. Their happiness is important and you do all you can to ensure it, but your happiness matters just as much. If you can supply their needs, whatever those needs are, you do it. But, you also have needs and they do not rank any less in priority. Every mother knows that although her infant is helpless without her, she will offer no help if she doesn’t get what she needs to thrive as well. You don’t always have to occupy first place in the line, but you don’t need to step out of the line completely.
Maybe it’s time you rethink your worn-out ideas about service usually imposed upon you by people who needed some work done, and recognize that you are the only you, you have got and if you fail to care for you, you won’t be taken care of. God will always supply your needs but only if you are willing to believe for them for yourself! Life is short my friends. Don’t spend your whole life trying to live someone else’s dream. You matter. Your needs matter. Make yourself a priority.
I love you!
Just some good thoughts…