I hate to admit it, but I recently realized that I spend a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. There are too many days when I spend an unnecessary amount of time dwelling on my mental health as I constantly try to make sense of it all. Why would God put me here if there are going to be days when getting out of bed will be my only victory? Am I going to have to wake up every single day wondering if I’ll accomplish anything meaningful? If God truly has a plan for me then why can’t I just wake up feeling inspired instead of fearing the days ahead? How does God expect me to fulfill my purpose when He won’t snap his fingers and make my life easy and pain free?
Deep down in the depths of my soul I know that there is a reason God has put me on this specific path full of trials and tribulations and no matter how I’m feeling the truth of the matter is He is going to use all of it for good. There is purpose in all of it.
When I try to come up with a simple explanation as to why any of us are here right now, four words keep popping into my mind that sum up God’s purpose for every one of us… ”Love God. Love others.” But how is that supposed to help me on days when the only task I can accomplish is getting out of bed? When I have to go to a job I hate, that’s what I’m supposed to do? And if that’s the case, why does He allow my circumstances to make that very difficult? On those days can’t I just focus on surviving the day as painlessly as possible and plan on being loving tomorrow?
Then I thought of Jesus. He woke up every day knowing he’d have to face persecution, relentless ridicule and eventually torture followed by a horrific death on a cross even though he didn’t deserve any of it. He faithfully sought out the sinners, the outcasts, the people society had given up on and thrown away. He healed them, loved them and inspired them. He had no home, no bed to collapse into after a hard day at work . He had no vacation days or sick time and when he needed strength he didn’t complain or quit…he talked to God and chose to obey Him.
I cannot fathom that. Even on days when depression has taken over my mind that’s nothing compared to what he had to endure each and every day. All the while knowing that very soon he would have to endure crucifixion. He didn’t come up with a bucket list so he could spend his last days in a relentless pursuit of happiness. How many of us would do that if we knew we only had a few months to live? Or would we focus solely on serving others?
Usually when I wake up complaining to God about having to face a difficult day and ask Him “WHY?” I never actually wait for an answer. I don’t really want to know why. But…what if I actually paused and imagined Him saying, “You are here to love me and to love others.” And then what if I just obeyed? Maybe God is putting me in the path of someone who needs to know that they are not alone, and my specific struggles have equipped me with the ability to empathize.
Think about it…have you ever had a really bad day when all you really cared about was getting through it as painlessly as possible? But then suddenly you find yourself faced with an opportunity to help someone and you end up doing it despite the fact it’s the last thing on earth you want to do? These moments tend to come out of the blue and usually at the exact moment when all I want is to disappear. But when I’ve listened to my gut and decided to do the ‘right thing’ it always ends up being just as rewarding to me. I’m forced out of my own head and instead of feeling sorry for myself I have a chance to show compassion toward someone else and do what God is asking me to do…love others. When I look back on my life I can honestly say that the times I’ve felt the worst, but chose to force myself to help someone, every single time I’ve been blessed in the process as well. God knows that. That’s why He tells us to do those two simple, yet monumental things, because He knows not only will we help another, we will be helped as well.
By our standards Jesus had every right to wake up each morning and say, “This sucks! I’m not doing this anymore!” But he never once complained and never once turned his back on his purpose even when he knew it would result in his death. And for that I am so grateful. Because He chose to obey God by loving others we can wake up with hope today! Hope for forgiveness, hope for salvation, hope for peace, hope for love and hope for hope!
What if we made a commitment to wake up each day this week with those commandments on our mind? What if we looked at each circumstance we face with the intention of finding a way to spread some love? It doesn’t have to be monumental. There were occasions when Jesus changed people’s lives just by having a conversation with them. That should inspire us to do the same. Who can you compliment? Who can you reach out to with an email? Is there a phone call you’ve been putting off? As long as we are breathing we have opportunities to make others feel loved and give them hope. Even if we are in the midst of something painful if we remember everything Jesus selflessly did for us then we will realize that whatever it is we face God will give us the strength to do what he intends for us to do.
Matthew 22: 37-39 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Mark 12:30-31 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
John 13:34-35 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”