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Do you remember when you realized that life wasn’t “all about you?” Oh I do. About a month after securing my first ministry leadership position in Pregnancy Care Ministry my CEO called me at work to inform me that she would not be able to make it to the Board of Directors’ meeting scheduled for that afternoon. Then, in her gentle, loving and compassionate way she told me to take her place.
I like to believe that I’ve grown in my speaking abilities over the years and I’m much better now at handling problems on the fly, but in that moment friends…I was overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. My CEO had no idea what kind of tailspin she had put me in. I had no idea what a Board of Directors did at their monthly meeting. I was so new to my job that I had never even met any Board members yet! I knew nothing about them except that they expected me to be a young professional, finishing up grad school, with a desire to serve women in unplanned pregnancies.
The pressure to know it all and project a successful, confident image, hit me like a ton of bricks. “I’m a leader in this ministry…I’m sort of supposed to know what I’m talking about, right? What if I don’t look like enough of an expert?”
I have always feared being stuck in a situation where I don’t know enough about the topic to discuss it intelligently. I hate feeling inadequate or ignorant. Let me know ahead of time what the topic will be and I’ll spend days, if not weeks, researching until I feel confident in my ability to speak intelligently on the subject, but please don’t throw me into a situation without giving me the opportunity to do some prep work!
This fear has caused me trouble before. Years ago I dated someone whose family, a highly intelligent family, lived to play Trivial Pursuit. I hate Trivial Pursuit! I dreaded seeing that hateful box get packed in the car to go with us to family camp outs…Christmas celebrations…you name it, it was there. Yet another opportunity for me to display my ignorance in front of the smartest people I knew and completely frustrate my mind trying to pull out useless bits information I might have heard somewhere, sometime, but had never thought were critical to know until that moment. I still have panic attacks when I see that game in the store.
The point is…I like to be in control. I like to make people think that I know what I’m talking about. When my boss asked me to take her place at the Board meeting that day, I felt I’d been thrust back into one of those despised games of Trivial Pursuit, grasping for something to make me look smarter than I am, and wishing desperately that I could take the path of the fool in Proverbs who looks wise just because he keeps his mouth shut! I knew I would have no such option…no time to prepare…no time to look over notes…no time for anything except to just show up and hope I didn’t make the Board regret that they had ever approved hiring me.
Just after noon that day I parked my car outside of the county library where the meeting was to be held. I turned off the ignition and then just sat there…paralyzed…trying to gather up enough courage to go in and conduct my business. I remember it so well: the dress, the shoes, the emotions, the looming building beckoning me to my doom.
I can close my eyes now and instantly I’m there again. But I wasn’t alone. In the midst of my great insecurity a still small voice reminded me, “It’s not about you Brooke…”
Immediately peace began to fill my once-fearful heart because I knew it was true! It wasn’t about me! And for the first time in my life I considered the fact that nothing is really about me. Rather, the circumstances of my life are designed by God to draw me closer to Him. He’s interested in using the things of this life to teach me to love Him with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength because that is what brings me true confidence, true joy, true peace. No, it really isn’t about me.
But isn’t that where we so often get hung up? I know I do. I so quickly forget that it’s not about me when my needs aren’t being met, when I’m placed in a difficult situation at work, when my children embarrass me or when someone I love falls despite my best efforts to help them. I hear myself saying things like “I can’t believe they would treat me like that after all I’ve done for them,” or whining, “Lord, why are You letting this happen to me? I thought You loved me!” I can even start to despair and cry out, “I’m done Lord. I can’t suffer through this anymore. There has to be something different…something better…I can’t give anymore here with no hope for change…maybe I should look for something new.”
If there was one thing I could help you understand that would benefit you in your walk through life it would be this: Life isn’t really about you. The only reason it’s about you in any form is because our awesome God has looked down on you with love. And with great and unfathomable grace, He has had mercy on you for the sake of that love so that you could have something better. He calls us to something better, through His Son, that only He can offer and He is jealous for your heart, dear friends. He wants to be the only one standing there on the pedestal of your heart. Not your fears, not your gifts, your intellect or your handicaps. Just Him…and the knowledge that He will do anything for your love…even ask you to face your fears. Jesus said that He who loses his life will be the one who finds it.
Dr. Del Tacket, in Focus on the Family’s Marriage series, points out that before the Garden…before the creation…before Adam and Eve, the serpent or the forbidden fruit, God lived in relationship with the Son and the Holy Spirit and it was good. The relationship between the Holy Three was perfect in unity, submission and love. And God loved you and me so much that He invited us to be a part of that perfect relationship…a part of His divine nature. A relationship beautiful in balance, perfect in harmony, and limitless in joy. Obedience and submission to the rules of this divine relationship shouldn’t steal our joy, but rather bring us joy in its purest, truest sense
The King of Kings and Lord of Lords invites us to something better friends…something beyond our wildest imaginations…better than our wildest dreams. God Himself draws us into a relationship that was already perfect…devoid of fears, failures, hurts and pain… and says, “Come away with me my love. Let me show you what you were always meant to be.”
And so my tendency to want life to be “all about me” becomes a trivial pursuit. Focusing on my fears, pride and desires instead of on my Father brings no gain. Choosing to understand and willingly participate in the divine relationship I’m invited into helps me lay down my right to look intelligent or my fear of not being prepared. I feel a little more hope…that I can hold on…that I can reflect the Son in any situation…even one that feels out of control because it isn’t about me.
Nothing can keep me away from God’s good plan for my life except my insistence on doing things my way instead of His. When I fight against the Lord and focus my attention on myself instead of Him and others, I’m really just trying with all of my might to hold onto something that is second rate at best and far sub-par to what God holds out to me as my inheritance through Christ. It’s a heart that says, “No God…I don’t want to trust that Your way is perfect. I want to hold on to the mess I’m in and keep hoping that screaming out ‘What about me?’ will eventually get someone’s attention. It says, “No thank you God. Don’t give me that four-carat diamond ring, I have a perfectly good cubic zirconium right here, thank you very much!” How ridiculous.
Oh Lord, I must decrease and You must increase. Help me I pray, to grab hold of the perfect plan You have created for me, and not to believe the world’s lie that this life has anything much to do with me.
By the way…the Board meeting went just fine. It’s amazing what you can do when you choose to place God on the throne instead of yourself.
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