This has been a long time coming. Things sort of clicked in my mind last night around 10:30, and I had… have… school in the morning. I told God, “I don’t know how long I can go without blogging about this! How am I supposed to fall asleep now?” but since I got virtually no sleep the night before, I fell asleep fairly nicely, until I was rudely awoken by nightmares of being trapped in a glass house with a person I didn’t want to be trapped in a glass house with because there were wasps outside and we were “going to die”, to quote them. Then for some reason, they were suddenly about 100 pounds heavier and 100 times more rude than they were five minutes previously, and I was really confused and woke up, realizing I turned my phone off before I went to bed. Which isn’t good, because my alarm is on there! So I jumped out of bed and took this nosedive for my phone to turn it on and check the time. 3 something. I figured that couldn’t be possible, so I spent the next five minutes explaining to myself why that wasn’t possible, then realized that it was possible, then spent the next 10 minutes contemplating why I would dream such a terrible dream, then realized that I am not going back to sleep now, then remembered this! So it is 4 AM and it is halloween and school starts in four hours. Lovely.
And I just spent like, half a page explaining how I woke up on a blog entitled, “Forget About Yourself!” My life.
Anyway, God’s been pointing this out to me for a long time, but things are just now becoming unmistakably clear. Here’s the thing: We all have struggles. The struggles of some may make ours look like nothing, or they may make ours look like straight up hell. But in the grand scheme of things, we all have struggles, end of story. We’re all alike in the fact that we have problems and are in need of help, some way or another.
So, what happens when your struggles are suddenly the only thing on your mind? What happens when your struggle consumes so much of you that you don’t know how to get your mind off of it? To quote August Burns Red, you are infatuated with what consumes you. What happens when you have convinced yourself that no one could understand what’s wrong with you, because your circumstances are too bad off? You convince yourself that you need to devote your energy toward your struggle, right?
And that’s not always necessarily bad. If you have fourteen tests coming up this week (That happened to me last week!), you sure as heck need to be devoting a lot of time to studying. (It ended up being no problem at all, after I wasted a whole day panicking.) Or, if you have no money and you’re broke, you should do something about that. Nothing wrong with that.
But what I’m talking about is when you have a struggle, a disability, a label, some sort of hindering factor, something that plagues you. You’re sick, you can’t keep a relationship worth crap, you are depressed, you feel inadequate, you fail over and over again in that one spot of sin and you hate yourself for it, you can’t make ends meet no matter how hard you work, you can’t find a place in the church where you feel like you belong, your dog keeps attacking squirrels and upsetting your life, I don’t know.
You’d say those are burdens, right? One of my biggest inspirations of all time, Nick Vujicic, who I encourage you to look up, was born without arms or legs. I finally got his book, Life Without Limits, the other day, in which he describes his struggles and how those struggles were what God used to bring him opportunity to touch so many people’s lives through live conferences and speaking at orphanages and such. When he was born, his parents were confused as to why God would give them a baby who would have such a limited life, and his mother even refused to hold him at first. Nick, despite his disability, pushed as hard as he could to live a normal life, and wasn’t afraid to at least try living life. His hope ended up driving him to God’s perfect plan for him, and now he is living his dream of touching others and giving them hope. I’m one of the ones who cried at home watching the DVD of his speaking because I was given so much hope by this guy.
Something Nick talked about in his book was something that God had been stirring in me for a long time. I don’t remember how exactly God started speaking about this in my life, but it’s been one of those things that won’t let go, and probably never will. This Nick guy right here wrote down in such simplicity the feelings and ideas that I had been becoming acquainted with in my mind. To quote him, he said, “One of the best ways I’ve found for holding on even when our prayers are not answered is to reach out to others. If your suffering is a burden, reach out to ease that of someone else and bring hope to them. Lift them up so that they will be comforted with the knowledge that they are not alone in their suffering. Offer companionship when you need it. Be a friend when you need friendship. Give hope when you most need it.”
So much truth. When I was younger, I would always be upset and wonder why no one wanted to help me or make me better. I was going (and still am going) through a lot, and I was under the impression that everyone needed to stop what they were doing and focus on making me better, because that’s just how bad off I was and of course I deserved all the attention in the world, because I was like fifteen and that was how my mind worked. God started to soften my heart when I would walk out of youth group seeing tears in the eyes of those who were forgotten. It seemed at times I was bombarded with the pain of others surrounding me, whether in some strange country or right on my street. People needed prayer. With time, I felt God was saying that if I wanted someone to love me and help me, I needed to love and help others. I needed to stop being in friendships for selfish reasons and realize that I needed to be a blessing to others instead of always trying to receive the blessings. Because the world truly does not revolve around me. And then I felt like God was saying that if I wanted to help people and have people be able to confide in me, I needed to build relationships and trust with them, and genuinely love them.
A funny thing happened when I did that. I remember one instance in particular when a friend from my youth group’s family was going through a really, really rough time. Which reminds me I need to ask her how that whole situation is working out. I told her family I’d pray for them, and one day I set about praying for God’s will all over that situation. And it was weird, because while I was praying for my friend, I noticed that a physical struggle of mine was relieved. It was weird; it was like in the time it took to forget about my problems, which are unfortunately almost always on my mind, and to focus on someone else, my problems didn’t have so much of an impact on me anymore.
And that’s just an example of what God did in my life, though. We’re called to carry each other’s burdens, and so doing so is obedience to God. God always always rewards obedience in the long run. So, I think it’s just a matter of letting go of yourself to focus on helping someone else. It benefits you and most importantly the person you’re helping, and brings glory to God. And that’s what Christian community is all about, in honesty.