Think Before “Being Yourself.”

Think Before “Being Yourself.”

 

The empowering cultural message of today is “Be Yourself.”

 

And to be honest, that’s a pretty positive idea. Don’t try to fit yourself into the mold that everyone else is already in; be authentic and not fake; be uniquely you, in only the way you can be.

 

And in a world of unrealistically photoshopped models on magazines, pressure to be at the top, and an obsession with all the glitz and glamour of fame and riches, there’s a stark comparison of ideas we’re hearing: “Be the best,” and “Be yourself.”

 

“Be yourself” is generally much healthier of a message.

 

But it’s not where we can stop.

 

See, there are two sides to this issue.

 

The first? Don’t let anyone tell you who to be, or put pressure on you to be a pseudo-version of yourself.

But the second is toxic – don’t change who you are because only you know who you want to be.

 

Perhaps the word “toxic” is too harsh, but the point remains. If we think we’re all set with no room for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we mislead ourselves.

 

I know this verse is somewhat out of the context of the passage, but the truth remains:

 

1 John 1:8

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

 

By nature, we’re flawed, sinful humans. By simply embracing our selfish selves, we let sinful thoughts and actions reign over our existence. I’m not saying that we’re not saved, we’re just not going to mature and become more Christlike.

 

If being yourself means being snarky and self-centered, rude and “liberated” (aka do-whatever-you-want-without-limits), then no, you shouldn’t be yourself.

 

By gratifying the natural desires of the flesh, we decide that we know better. We make the decision to reject the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives and instead, indulge in attitudes and engagements that will end up hurting us later.

 

So where does that leave us? Is it good, or is it bad to embrace who we are?

 

It’s both.

 

It’s great to be yourself. In fact, if doing so helps you to maximize your life to grow in your faith and serve God, then by all means, go for it. We all have different personalities, appearances, passions, and dreams for a reason.

 

But if being yourself gives you the excuse to express yourself in ways that stunt your growth, give power to sin, or disregard the leading of the Holy Spirit, then stop.

 

Think.

 

Before listening to the so-called “empowering” message of embracing ourselves as we are, let us look above the noise and onto truth.

 

Will our actions lead us to God, or away from Him?

 

Will we be using them to serve Him, or just ourselves?

 

Will the glory go to us after all, or to God?

 

Does this help us to become the person God has for us to be?

 

In the end, these questions can only be answered by you. What are your intentions in embracing your inner self?

 

We can either use our lives to serve God, or serve ourselves – to scream about freedom in Christ or freedom in worldly living – to listen to the Holy Spirit or to listen to the Devil.

 

What will you choose today?

 

Today, I choose to think before instinctively being “myself.”

 

*aj

More Of My Book: Mending (+ free wallpaper!)

More of My Book_ Mending

Happy Tuesday, lovely readers. I hope you’ve had a wonderful week.

Tuesday always creeps up on me and I almost forgot to post. But I suppose I didn’t, since I’m here now.

 

I was inspired this week by one of Ann Voskamp’s blog posts. It made me cry (in a good way), and I highly recommend reading it. Her writing is exquisite.

 

Anyway, I wanted to share the final segment of chapter one of my book. I’m at 13k right now, and because April so far has just been chaotic and impossible, I’ve brought my goal down to 20k. That doesn’t mean anything significant – it just means I’ll be writing at a more manageable pace.

 

My book is turning out to be different than I imagined, but I’m really happy with it. And my cabin mates – Hannah, Jonathan, Hann, Jessi, Anna, Rachel, another Anna, and a few others still – are some of the most encouraging people I’ve met. I’ve accomplished more than I ever would’ve without the encouragement.

 

Today’s segment is on depression. Sound depressing? Maybe. It’s a tough topic. But instead of giving us the excuse to wade neck-high in self pity over our feelings, I want us to find hope in the truth that we have to hold onto.

 

Enjoy!

 

The word depression used to frighten me. I thought of teenagers sitting alone in their rooms, wearing all black, blasting rock music, and choosing not to be happy. It was always a touchy subject in my mind, and a bit intimidating.

But then I experienced depression of my own and my entire perspective changed.

Contrary to popular belief, depression is not a bad word, nor is it entirely a bad thing. We shouldn’t act as though topics such as depression should be avoided; rather, we should confront the problems we have without shame.

The problems arise when we allow our depression to control us. Bad things happen when we let our minds wander much too far, when we allow ourselves to think such negative, distorted thoughts, and when we trade God’s truths for our feelings.

And as much as depression has become such a cultural norm, and it should not be brushed under the rug as “a ploy for attention,” we need to face it and learn how not to be consumed by it.

 

What is Depression? Can Christians Be Depressed?

 

As I’ve said before, I have nowhere near all the answers. I’m not a professional. I’m just a girl wanting to share what I’ve experienced and what I’m learning in my crazy life, and the things that have immensely helped me.

I know that depression can have multiple forms, none of which should be taken lightly.

Whether your depression is medical, clinical, or emotional, it hurts. I know it does. It hurts to feel empty. It hurts to feel like nothing matters. It hurts to feel constantly weighted by a seemingly unshakable dark cloud. It hurts, because depression is a fog, and you can’t see anything in front of you except the inky blackness. All that’s visible is the here and now, which can seem to be so overwhelming when everything feels utterly hopeless.

People often attempt to say that Christians can’t suffer from depression for the simple reason that our lives should be in total order once we’re saved. Or, that being depressed is a sin or a petty feeling and we should just get over it.

I highly disagree.

Instead, I’d say this. Christians often suffer from depression, and torture themselves over it because they believe they shouldn’t feel the pain or numbness. This only leads to feeling worse, because you can’t just whip yourself out of a mindset or condition – especially one that’s not even a spiritual problem in the first place. Healing is a process. If it’s medical or clinical depression, a person will need medical attention, and not just lectures from someone ordering them to “snap out of it.” Similarly, those with emotional depression will need time to heal. Time to rebuild the joy in their hearts. No amount of sermons, books, blog posts, lectures, or conversations can heal a tormented soul – only God can.

 

Is There Anything I Can Do About My Depression?

 

What sets us apart from the rest of the world is the fact that we have a hope to hold onto. We know that God will hold us up when our weakness is the greatest. We know that God cares for us and loves us unconditionally. We know that in our Lord, we can find true rest. We know that God’s presence is with us always. We know that in our lowest times, God still reaches us. We know that even when life is full of torment, God loves us and wants us to rely on Him for strength.

Hearing those things doesn’t make everything instantly feel better; of course it doesn’t. It may take years to grasp those concepts, even the ones found in the verses we memorized as kids. In the middle of our depression, those truths, while comforting, may seem distant or not applicable to us. This is normal. We’ve trained our minds to think things contrary to truth, and it’s only natural for it to take time for us to come back to what’s right and good.

Nevertheless, we must keep feeding our minds with what the Bible says. Thinking the thoughts that God says about us. Reading the Scriptures over and over. Praying for God to bring us through. Meditating on verses that remind us that God has a plan through it all. Believing God for the strength and peace He promises.

And while none of these things are magic, they help. And slowly, with the proper approach and by filling our minds with truth, we can begin to mend.

 

*aj

 

Still reading? Enjoy a free wallpaper!

mend wallpaper

Independence: The Good and the Bad

Independence- The Good and the Bad

 

I caught myself the other day thinking something I tend to say a lot.

 

“I’ve got it.” I say it when I’m trying to do something on my own. I say it when I’m trying to take the burden off someone else to do something. I say it when I’m trying to handle something on my own. I say it to be independent.

 

And in this world, independence is such a thing that’s admired. That somehow by doing whatever we want because we’re strong and free, we are superior people. It’s a message that gets pushed and shoved in our faces – You can do it; don’t let anything stop you. You don’t need help.

 

And for some, this is an empowering message. An inspiring one that keeps us going on, knowing that we don’t have to give up. But it soon turns into a dangerous message, and here’s why.

 

The “just do it” message only works if you can do it. That is, if you’re capable.

 

And being human as I am, I’m not capable of everything. I collapse under stress. I don’t have perfect faith. I’m tempted at times. I stay home alone for one afternoon and find that OH MY GOODNESS WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT MY FAMILY. (I love you, family.)

 

Frankly, I live needing help. But we were meant to be this way. In needing help, we allow ourselves to be dependent on God, and we do not need to suffer alone.

 

Hebrews 4:15-16

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

 

Jesus sympathizes with us because He experienced everything we do. He was tempted. He experienced pain – He was crucified, for crying out loud! To think that we must always be independent is to deny the strength and peace that He offers.

 

Check this passage out as well.

 

Philippians 4:4-7

 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

I like being independent, I really do. But I know I can’t always. I’m not perfect, nor should I try to be. It’s a good thing to lean on God, to rely on His strength. It’s a good thing because He has no capacity to fail. He will never leave, never stop loving us, never give up on us.

 

No matter what we do, we are loved and cared for. Our bad choices are not counted against us. And even when we doubt, God proves Himself to us.

 

Instead of chasing independence, let’s chase the One who gives us true freedom to rest in Himself. Because that’s the most freeing thing of all.

 

*aj