"Just make yourself happy." "Put yourself first."
I'm sure you've heard one of these sentences at least a handful of times. Although on the surface these seem like simple, harmless sayings for self-empowerment and love, I believe, in many cases, this has become something so far from just that.
We can so easily become self-centered and forget about the problems those around us are facing-and forget that it is our job to reach out. It is not just about reaching inward, constantly trying to fill ourselves with our desires; it is about reaching outward, then watching as God satisfies our deepest needs. Selfishness is a struggle that only leaves us feeling less fulfilled. When we focus only on ourselves, our ultimate focus is lost and our happiness becomes some skewed form that won't last.
We find joy in serving others and in being a part of something greater than ourselves. There's a reason why, when someone smiles at you or seems so full of joy, your day is a bit brighter. There is a reason we find happiness in doing something for someone else, like buying a present we know our friend is going to love and enjoy. There is a reason complimenting others does not take anything away from us, but instead adds something to our lives that is so far past surface level. There is depth to serving others that I believe we tend to push aside. We are consumed by the fleshly desires that eventually prove useless, temporary.
Now, I know the majority of people who say the phrases first mentioned in this article may not be Christians. However, I also know we as Christians do get tangled up in this mindset. We tend to live our day-to-day lives in self-indulgence, though we don't deem it such.
Galatians 5:13 tells us, "do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." I have been so convicted, through these incredible words and countless others, to stop serving myself and start searching for others who need service-others who need freedom. My freedom should spark a longing to freely love and serve, a longing for others to be freed and shown true joy.
This true joy cannot come from simply living for each and every one of my desires. The "make myself happy" mentality isn't a lasting source of joy. Because honestly, it only induces loneliness and selfishness. Instead, my goal should be, "bring someone else joy." A deep joy that comes from humble acts of service and care. A joy that comes from spoken words of life and love. A joy that comes from truth.
Instead of think, I just need to make myself happy!, I will choose to show someone else that there is something deeper than this artificial "happiness."
This, of course, does not mean to stop doing the things you love and ignore your passions and joys, because these things are gifts and talents from Jesus to appreciate and enjoy! When the mindset discussed above becomes an extreme that distorts your focus and provokes selfishness, though-which so easily happens-this is when we need to ask ourselves, "What am I actually living for?" Are we living for flesh or spirit? For service or for self?
Let's rise. Rise above what this world would fool us into thinking joy and happiness is. Rise by lifting someone else up.