As an elementary school teacher, I was amazed at how frequently I would have my own “aha!” moments while teaching ten-year-olds. I’m not just talking about big, life-lesson, “aha” moments…although those certainly happened as well. No, I mean… I’m teaching dividing fractions, something I’ve done since I was ten years old, and all of a sudden something clicks and I have this whole new level of number sense. Or I’m teaching WWII and through the course of preparing or delivering the information something in my brain unlocks and I understand how parts of history fit together to a whole new level.
I have found the same to be true in my faith. One lesson, in particular, that I technically learned early in my faith was that “it wasn’t about me”. I read books and heard messages that told me things like:
“The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”-Westminster Shorter Catechism
“It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness.”-Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life
“God does not exist to make a big deal out of us. We exist to make a big deal out of him. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s all about him.”-Max Lucado, It’s Not About Me
And you know what? I took those thoughts to heart…really I did. They would cause me to think things like:
“What is wrong with me?!”
“Why can’t I focus my mind on God?!”
“I’m a terrible Christian! No matter how hard I try to (put God first, trust Him, honor Him, you name it) I just mess up!”
I just sort-of existed in this perpetual state of self-deprecation…
As a teenager, this translated into working really hard to put up a facade that I hoped would convince others I had things together. Then I was bitter and angry when people assumed I had it all together. It made for a fantastic adolescence…
As an older teenager and young adult, I began my begging and pleading and attempts at bartering with the Lord. If He would just heal my mind I could serve Him better. If He would take away my anxieties or compulsive thoughts I could confidently live for Him!
So then my thoughts turned to:
“Why did you make me this way, God?!”
“Why won’t you just fix me?!”
and eventually, “If you aren’t going to fix me, then why am I here?!”
Then, as I’ve mentioned before, I heard Beth Moore say something that would create a complete shift in my thinking. Essentially, she said that self-loathing is still self-centeredness. Self-loathing is still selfish. Self-loathing is still sin.
Well, how in the world does an introspective self-loather stop self-loathing?? The answer was in the principle I’d heard a million times…it’s not about me.
It’s not about my ability to stop. It’s not about my propensity towards sin. It’s not about my willingness or lack of willingness to yield to God. It’s not about my perceived ineptitudes. It is only, 100%, entirely about God.
It’s not even ultimately about who I am in Him, although that is of value. It’s completely counter-cultural, completely counter-intuitive. It’s reaching a point where I’m able to say with Paul, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Now, when I hear things like ‘it’s not about you’, my thoughts go to, ‘thank you Lord!’ and ‘what a mess I would be in if it were!’
God is not glorified by me getting it all right and being the perfect Christian. No, that would be me glorifying myself. I glorify God by allowing Him to be everything I can never be, and allowing my weaknesses to magnify His power and strength.
I’m so grateful it’s not all about me, and it never will be!