…no seriously, I mean it. Go make someone smile today.
I am a verbal processer, meaning that my thoughts and feelings are best developed when I talk about them. This is part of the reason why I like to write so much, because I have discovered that when there are no listening ears, writing out my thoughts and feelings is the next best thing.
Both my Mom and I are verbal processers, so we have spent countless hours together talking and sharing the things that are heavy on our hearts.
Some of these conversations have consisted of me just dumping all my frustration out over the phone; my frustration about everything that seemed to be happening to me and how it simply wasn’t fair.
In loving patience and wisdom though, my Mom would listen and let me vent. However, once I was finished, there was always a short pause on the other end followed by what is now my favorite piece of advice…
Well honey, I’m sorry you feel that way. Now go make someone smile and once you’ve done that, call me back.
Oh, how that would frustrate me at the time! I didn’t care how others felt. I just wanted to hear something that would make me feel better. The last thing I felt like doing was going out of my way to make someone else smile.
When we have an inflated view of self such as this, we start viewing things as possessions rather than gifts from God; things like our time, money, and relationships. As our eyes become fixated on ourselves; on what we feel like we’re lacking or on our unmet expectations and desires, we start using the things that God has given us to gratify our growing need to self-justify and self-validate rather than for His good and wonderful purposes.
We become selfish with our time, careless with our resources, and abusive in our relationships by expecting others to do what only God can do.
There were times where I wouldn’t listen to my Mom’s advice and instead wasted time watching Netflix to numb my mind, going on careless shopping trips to Target to distract my thoughts, and spending hours brewing over resentment towards family and friends to justify my feelings.
However, the times when I actually did take her advice proved to be so fruitful that I began to see the truth behind what my Mom was telling me; the truth that we were never designed to fixate on ourselves, but to fixate on someone greater.
Jesus tells us in Luke 10:27 to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’
When we become consumed with ourselves, our primary problem is not that we lack self-worth or self-confidence. Our greatest need is not for validation or encouragement.
Our problem is that we have an inflated view of self because we lack awe; we lack a grander vision of the majesty that lies beyond ourselves. Our greatest need then is not to make ourselves feel better with a self-care day, but to get our eyes off of ourselves and onto Jesus Christ.
what are you really wanting?
The best way to get your eyes off of yourself and fixed on Jesus Christ is to ask yourself this very simple, yet incredibly profound question – what are you really wanting?
When I was first asked this question, it really confused me. I had just spilled all of my frustration and once I had finished, there was that familiar pause and then the question – what do you really want?
I walked away from that conversation perplexed and slightly frustrated, with no new advice or tips on how to feel better about my circumstances but instead with this really annoying, nagging question in the back of my mind – what do I really want?
It wasn’t until about four or five months later that I realized what the point of that question was. It was the same point my Mom was trying to make whenever she told me to go make someone smile – I needed to get my eyes off of myself.
My problem was that I was presently preoccupied with how I felt in the moment and not focused on Christ’s eternal glory and sustaining grace. Because of that, my thoughts, feelings, and emotions were dictated by the circumstances that I found myself in, eventually leading to self-consumed, self-focused behaviors and attitudes.
The thing that we all need to realize is that we were created; we were molded and shaped and designed to be in relationship with God. Our mind, body, and spirit were intended to be sustained, nourished, refreshed, and renewed by God alone (John 15:1-8, NIV). We were made to desire Him and thirst for His love and grace and to be entirely fulfilled by Him.
Therefore, every want, need, and desire that we have is a desperate cry for Him. When we desire worldly relationships, we are crying out for His all-satisfying companionship (Ps. 139:7, NIV).
“Every want, need, and desire that we have is a desperate cry for Him.”
When we are let down and disappointed by the frailty of worldly love, we are desiring the unconditional nature of His perfect love (Jer. 31:3, NIV).
When we wish to be heard and known, we are craving His infinite knowledge and understanding (Ps. 139:1-3, NIV).
When we resent solitude, we want to know that He is with us and that we are never truly alone (Ps. 25:16-18, NIV).
When we recoil and try to protect ourselves against the assaults of this fallen world, we are deeply longing for freedom from sin and death, which is found in Him alone (Ps. 32:7, NIV). We want to find rest under the shadow of His protective wings (Ps. 91:4, NIV).
The worldly solutions to our wants and needs are rudimentary at best. When we’re tired, Netflix numbs rather than restores and refreshes. When we crave understanding and knowledge, Facebook and CNN clutter rather than clarify. When we’ve had a tough week and want to have a good time, a night out thrills, but does not arouse true joy.
Only the Word of God is capable of sustaining and fulfilling our every need and desire, for it is ‘the law of the Lord that is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous’ (Ps. 19:7-9, NIV).
As you are refreshed and nourished by the Word of God and as you find your true joy and satisfaction in Christ alone, trust that when your eyes are fixed on Jesus and not on yourself, you will ‘be radiant with joy’ (Ps. 34:5, NLT), causing all those who see the joy you have to smile from ear to ear.