Self-unhelp

There is so much self-help out there.  But if I can really help myself, doesn’t it beg the question, Why did I get myself so messed up in the first place?

“He [Jesus] is

‘the stone you builders rejected,

which has become the capstone.’

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

(Peter, quoted in Acts 4:11-12, NIV)

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Why “don’t give up on yourself” is not such a very encouraging thought to me.

I had it all planned out.  Really.

Olympic ice skating was in my future.

Not to be boastful or anything, but I was planning on being the youngest ice skater ever.  To compete.  And to earn perfect 10’s.  And to have all stuffed animals thrown out on the rink, no roses.  Because I would tell all my fans before I won that I wanted stuffed animals for gifts.  With tails.  They had to have tails.

I would be exactly 14 years 0 days–the youngest age anyone could compete–when I ice skated with probably a dozen triple jumps and maybe a few quadruple ones thrown in for good measure.  Not that the summer Olympics ever fell on my birthday.  But they would the year I turned 14.  I hoped.

My plan?  Impeccable.  I would practice skating around the house on my socks until somebody built an ice skating rink in our region.

And then came the fateful day I turned 14-and-one-day-old.  And I realized I was not going to be the 14-and-zero-day-old ice skater I had always planned.

Pooh.

Back to the drawing board.

I had it all planned out.  Again.

I was going to make baskets of exquisitefully intricate origami animals for seniors in nursing homes.  I would go by every week with a basket of gorgeously folded paper, probably with enough to share among two or three nursing homes.  I had even bought an origami kit, with enough paper to make my first 60 critters or so.  Ah, it would be start anyway.  Enough to hold me over for the first few days.

I gave up on Paper Origami Frog #1.

I could not fold Paper Origami Frog #1.  I could not make Paper Origami Frog #1 look ANYTHING like the picture even if I tried to use scissors and paper wads.

Goodbye, Paper Origami Octopus #68.  Goodbye, Paper Origami Peacock #707.  Goodbye Paper Origami Sea Horse #2,090,809.

Back to the drawing board.

I had it all planned out this time.  Really.

I was going to make a trillion or so dollars.  Waitressing.  I was clearly loved by most customers, especially the man who ordered the salad every week and tipped 35 cents.  He hadn’t tipped anything before I had come to work there.  It was a great start.

It lasted a summer.

What with being cussed out by another waitress, competing for customers, and having the boss yell at me for not replenishing the all-you-can-eat salad buffet and not saying even one little word to the waiter who worked with me . . well, you get the idea.  I quit-oed.  And got myself enrolled in college.  So late, in fact, that I had to take classes at crazy hours.  But it was a zillion times better than working at that pizza parlor.

Back to the drawing board.

No, but this time I had it really planned out.  Really.  I mean, this was a total for sure thing.

I would invest in stock.

Those of you who know me and have already started hysterically laughing, stop it.  It’s rude.

Fortunately–very fortunately–extremely, very fortunately–I never got past the reading directions part.

You know, I could spend my life never giving up on myself . . but it’d be at the expense of ever admitting the nature I know I have inside me.  The truth is, I am worth giving up on.  On my own, I don’t have it together.  No matter how many times I try, I’m never going to get to be perfect or good at anything.

“No one is good except God alone.” (Jesus, quoted in Mark 10:18b, ESV)

I am so okay with giving up on myself.  I know I don’t have it in me to do anything right.  But that doesn’t mean I want to throw in the towel.

Instead, I want God to give me a little of His strength, and I can do anything then.  Not anything I want to do, but anything He wants me to do.  It don’t look like it’s going to be making billions of dollars waitressing or winning medals by landing flying spins.  It’s way better than that.  It’s reaching people for Christ, and getting closer to the heartbeat of God.

“What is impossible for people is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27b, NLT)

State of Depression

I used to live in the state of Depression.  I didn’t want to move from there because, after all, that was where I lived.  It was home.  It was most familiar.   Self-help did not work because I just grew more interested in depression the more I studied it and more sympathetic to myself.  If anything, self-help meant I helped myself build a bigger house in the state of Depression.

(State boundaries are fiercely fought over and subject to change.)

Even when I really wanted to move, I didn’t know where to go.  I’d always end up driving to some place worse.  Don’t ever drive to the eastern border of Depression, because you end up right in Anger and you have to pay a big toll to boot.

And don’t ever go west, because you’ll run right into the state of Self-Indulgence and probably live in the city of Debt.

And don’t go north, whatever you do, because there’s a fork in the road and you’ll either wind up in Confusion or Hypocrisy.

But whatever you do, whatever you do, don’t drive south or you’ll be sure to hit the terrible traffic in the state of Panic and you’ll never find your way back out.

What I needed was a plane ride right out of the state of Depression, right out of the country of Misery, as a matter of fact.

And that is just what I got through Jesus Christ.

“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” –Jesus

Matthew 11:28, CEB

Body, mind, soul, and why I now disagree with what I used to think

This is something I wrote years ago when I thought I knew what I was talking about but I really didn’t:

We are banks.

Sometimes people invest in us, sometimes they withdraw from us, sometimes they borrow from us, and occasionally they rob from us.  Sometimes we deposit to ourselves.  And sometimes we withdraw funds to give to others or simply to squander.  Sometimes we borrow from others, sometimes we withdraw from them, and occasionally we even rob from them.  Life is a constant give and take, a perpetual balancing act between how much we devote to our mind, our body, and our soul.

When you see an emptiness in one of more of your vaults, where can you go for help?

Resources for the Body

  • 64 ounces of water per day
  • 7-9 hours of sleep every night
  • Vitamins, herbs, and supplements
  • Balance of the food groups
  • Pure, natural foods
  • Daily exercise
  • Teeth care (brushing, flossing, and fluoride)
  • Comfortable clothes (some fabrics are very soothing, others chafe skin)
  • Toxicity programs (under guidance of a health practitioner)
  • Regular dental and doctor exams
  • Massages
  • Acupuncture

Resources for the Mind

  • Friends (especially conversation)
  • Family get-togethers
  • Christian fellowship
  • Word games
  • Journaling
  • Vocabulary building problems (for self-expression)
  • Inspirational books, movies, and music (what inspires you)
  • Variety in life
  • Positive life changes

Resources for the Soul

  • Ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ through the Word, prayer, and devotional time at a personal, small group, and church level

When I wrote this, I thought I was in the business of helping people.  In reality, I hadn’t even made a commitment in my own life to following Jesus Christ.  I thought I was saying the right words.  I thought I was a sage.  But really, I had painfully little clue what I was writing about.  (By the way, I did not even go to a small group at this time and I would barely go to Sunday morning church.  I don’t even know if I had even begun reading the Bible–heart reading–at the time I wrote this or not!)

Thank God, He revealed Himself to me, and I now know what a lot of nice-sounding nonsense most of what I wrote was.  The only thing I had right, I had right in the feeblest sense: that is, the ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ.

But I knew so little, because I linked that with devotions and prayers and church as if the actual relationship was only one link in the chain.

I want to rewrite.

We are not banks.

This life isn’t about stockpiling “good coins” and keeping circumstances and people from robbing us of those coins.  It isn’t about how many deposits people make, or how many withdrawals we make, or how many times we’re robbed.  Life is not a constant give and take, and there is no balancing act involved between our mind, our body, and our soul.  That’s a load of junk.

Our life is about our soul.  Period.

I don’t “balance” my soul with my mind or my body.  And I don’t “give” and “take” from one to give to the other.  That’s total nonsense.  If I even try to do that, what I will be doing is starving my soul.

The purpose of my body is to hold my soul.  The purpose of my mind is to determine where my soul will go–and that opportunity is only possible because of a gift, the gift of Jesus Christ.  Without Him, the only thing I can ever give anyone is sin and the only thing I can ever take to “add” to my “coins” is sin.

The things we do for our body and mind are ultimately only meaningful for the consequence they have on our soul.

There have been probably thousands of books written on ways to take care of your mind and your body or how to have warm and fuzzy feelings for your soul, but all of these are utterly, totally pointless if they do not change where your soul is going.

The only–the only–Person who can change where your soul is going is Jesus Christ.

The first thing you or I will care about on the day we die and wake up to eternity is whether or not Jesus claims us as His own.  The next thing we will care about will either be, if Jesus does not claim us, that we are going to Hell, or, if Jesus does claim us, how we used our time on earth to bring as many souls to Him as possible.

In eternity, we will either be given a new body or not based on the state of our soul.  And in eternity, our mind will be unable to make any further decisions about whether we spend our time in Heaven or in Hell.  If we are in Hell, we won’t go to Heaven if we change our mind about Jesus–and of course we will change our mind, because we will see Him as Lord wherever we are.  But it will be too late because, during the time we were in our body, we made up our minds about where we would go.  And if our choice was Hell, we are stuck.

I now understand there is no exercise, no diet, no homeopathy, no medicine, no friendship, no family member, no social function, no community, no environment, no act of citizenship, no volunteerism, no politics, and no “good deed” that will save us . . . and even if these things help us feel better, in the end, it will be absolutely purposeless in our eternity.

Only one can save us, and He is Jesus Christ.

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12, NLT)