Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's Not About Me.

In last Friday's post, I wrote a sentence about the externals in life not affecting the internal. How the things that happen to me are just that – external influences. They don't define who I am on the inside.

Since that post I've had a number of people email, asking me to write about what I view as an external vs. the internal. They want to know what defines me vs. what happens to me. I've mulled that over the last few days and I've come to the only conclusion that works for my life.

Everything is an external, except for Him. The internal is Him, working through me. The rest is just what He has to work with.

That's not to say that the externals don't affect my emotions. My dad's death rocked me to my core. This disease has changed every other external in my life and I have a lot of feelings about that. The external impacts us – we'd be cold and unfeeling if it didn't. The externals of other people's situations should impact us, too, so we can be empathetic and reach out to help as Jesus has instructed us to do.

The externals matter, because they spur us to action.

But that internal existence, the thing that dictates our emotional and outward reactions to all the externals, should be guided by one thing only: Him. Our trust in Him. Our belief in Him. Our guidance from Him. Our instruction that He has provided by His word.

As I thought about it I kept going back in my mind to a post I had written a few years ago when I talked about my own life not being about me, but about what He needs from me. So I'm going to repost that below… I think it will help explain what I mean by life's externals just being a way He can use us for His good.

Because like everything else in life, I think it comes down to trusting Him more than we trust ourselves.

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It's Not About Me
{originally posted January 13, 2009}

It's not about me.

That's what has been popping into my head a lot lately when people ask me questions about how I deal with being sick, why I don't get more frustrated, why I don't complain more or why I'm not angry about my situation.

We all want life to be fair. We want goodness to prevail and hard work to mean that life will be easier and ... that green grass on the other side of the fence that belongs to the people who don't appreciate it? We'd like that to be transplanted into the lawn of the person who spends all day feeding and watering the sparse looking grass in hopes of a fruitful harvest.

But all of that is "me" thinking... and it's not about me.

The plain and simple truth, if we take big lessons in life and strip them down to the bare essentials, is that we are tiny blips on a very big screen. Only God has the capacity to see all of it. He saw all that came before us and sees all that will come after us, and only He can know the role that each of us can play that will best serve Him and each other.

So, my life isn't ideal by our standards. By my standards, it's getting less ideal by the year. That whole living in pain thing? I could do without it. The getting sick thing? Gets old really fast. The never leaving the house thing? I could think of some fun places to go. I miss fresh air. I miss singing at church. I miss dancing until I'm out of breath and riding in a boat so fast if you close your eyes you think you're flying.

But it's not about me. It's about what He can do with my life. I have learned a lot about myself, my faith, my perspective. But that doesn't mean I was given this illness to teach me something. For all I know, God saw this illness was going to be in my body and helped nurture me so I could use it to affect someone else. And as much as I would like this disease to be gone when I wake up in the morning, if it serves a purpose for another person to see their life or relationship with God in a new light, then I wouldn't ask for it to be taken from me.

Because it's not about me. Nothing about my life is about me... it's about who He needs me to be.

And how can I complain about that?

Oh, complaining can come so easily for all of us... your small house, your flat tire, the promotion that should have been yours and the grass that grows so fast you don't have the time to mow it...

But what if the small house is so you are next to a neighbor who needs your help when her husband dies? Or your tire went flat when you were driving so it didn't happen when your teenage son was driving and he wouldn't have known what to do? Maybe the promotion would have been a dead end for you and next year a better opportunity will be waiting. And that lawn? Maybe it's the only exercise you do each week and is saving you from a heart attack.

The point is, you don't know. I don't know. But it's not about me. It's about how He can use my life... so as far as I'm concerned, even those things that make me want to pull my hair out and scream "Why me?!?" are blessings in disguise. Blessings for me, or for someone else, or for a reason I can't even imagine.

But it doesn't really matter. Because it's not about me.

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