You are reading this blog because you are curious. Maybe you stumbled here due to a Google search. Or maybe you are one of my friends and family who read what I write. (Hint: I do not write like a Harvard scholar. I hope you figured this out by now.)
Even though you came here to read, I would encourage you to start writing for yourself. Everyone has a story. Each of our stories are filled with joy, surprises, achievements, heartache, and trauma. The last word there (trauma) scares everyone; therefore, they try to minimize any pain in their life. “I’ve never experienced anything traumatic or horrible. I just suck it up.” <—- Right, because that has worked well for you and the rest of us. I speak in pure sarcasm.
Writing is good for you. Whether you write a blog or keep a journal (or both), it is like therapy. As you are thinking and processing life, you begin to write due to something in your life, good or bad. You know the living hell you walked through. And because you are STILL STANDING, you desire for others to have hope and healing.
Take some time today and evaluate your life. Start a journal where you can look at your journey and how God and others have walked with you in that journey. Be mindful of your style. Some people write huge paragraphs and others use bullet points on their pages. This is about process; not perfection. If you are into a topic of interest and wish to start a blog, go for it!
When I was first out of college, I worked at a church and Latchkey program. They were interconnected and this was great as a 4th and 5th grade pastor for ministry opportunities. In the Latchkey program, we provided before and after-school care to a large group of students from Kindergarten through 5th grade. Organization and structure were key. This was when I was introduced to “the W.A.Y.”
W.A.Y. stands for Worry About Yourself. One of my esteemed colleagues provided this idea to the children and the staff at the program. If a situation was out of control, we pointed the children to Worry About Yourself. This idea is not mind blowing. This idea is not something that Harvard researchers came up with after months of research and tests in a lab. W.A.Y. is meant to be behavioral but this can be applied to the spiritual life.
This was introduced to me in 2006. Yes, 15 years ago. But the truth that drips from the mantra holds true! Worry About Yourself can apply to our spiritual life. What does our time with Jesus look like? We cannot pour from an empty cup. Instead of being focused on how holy someone else’s spiritual life looks like (thanks social media), get close to Jesus. Talk to him. Hear from him. Really!
As I write this blog, I know there are people who are dying to say: “But aren’t we called to serve?!” Instead, we are! And herein lies the dilemma, you cannot offer others what you do not have. Your church attendance and service in the local church is admirable and needed; however, this does not go before your relationship with God. There is nothing more sad than when people are busy and neglect Jesus in the process.
Social media has provided everyone with a microphone and a platform. If you have something to say, then you have a place to say it. You will probably have an audience given how much time we spend on social media. And with your audience comes those background beasts fondly known as trolls. Trolls are interesting. They may be passively nosy or they may want to engage and fight in the Daily Keyboard Olympics (its like Fight Club but for trolls). Pick your battles wisely.
Why W.A.Y. when dealing with all of the possible battles out there? Because you cannot be in ALL things, ALL of the time. In John Eldredge’s book Get Your Life Back, he teaches about Benevolent Detachment. Benevolent Detachment is an act of giving everyone and everything to Jesus in a time of intentional pause throughout the day. It is NOT a “I am done with the world, forget them” mentality. It is releasing your burdens and the burdens of others to God. We are not God.
Worry About Yourself. Your heart and soul need it. And when you care for your heart and soul, then you can help others.
There is a movement that is pretty strong and only gaining momentum. This is a force to be reckoned with and it has found its way onto may social media platforms–complete with cute quotes and pictures that are meant to empower and inspire. And light a fuse. This movement is: the Best Life NOW.
Because I like to be creative, I will be capitalizing “NOW” for the duration of this post. And I will also provide you with some thoughts on why the #BestLifeNOW movement is toxic to our hearts and souls. And because I am a pastor by trade and writer by hobby, I will play wordsmith and break down the elements of the movement.
Best: This implies that you are creating the BEST life for yourself. You are making things happen. You will make things happen right now and no one will stop you! One Google search and you will see that the Best Life has been greatly aimed at women. “You don’t need anyone”. “You don’t need a man”. “You do you!” The issue with these theories is they are crap. We are relational beings. God made us in His image during the act of Creation. God created us for perfect fellowship with Him and then Adam and Eve messed it up.
Adam and Eve wanted their best life too. In the Garden, the serpent (translated as Satan) tempted Adam and Eve to want more and more. They gave in and they broke that perfect relationship with God. Many times, people read the Bible and only point to Satan tempting Jesus. As you see, evil has existed since the beginning of Creation. Evil lingers in our heart and causes us to be selfish. If you want to focus on being the best, start with yourself but not the exterior: relationships, job, selfies, etc. Start with your heart. The best worldview you can operate in is in one where you know the world does not revolve around you. Start in God, not the world.
Life: Our life is not our own. Time is not unlimited on Earth. This is not to scare you but to make you aware of how fragile life is. People cry for joy when they become parents and cry in sorrow when they lose their parents or loved ones. When people are near the end of life, they will often look back and have regrets. They should have, would have, could have. This is a normal human response. Their normal human response is also the end of time with others. Life is precious. When we view life as more than these monumental moments and more about the everyday love that we can give others; it will rock our world. Consistent is more important than magnificent.
NOW: Herein lies my biggest issue with the #BestLife movement: the NOW. Now = everything is about the here and now and forget the future. This is bad ideology and if you believe in God, this is really bad theology. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer in our churches and at funerals and weddings, we pray “your Kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth and it is in Heaven”. We sometimes forget that the Christian life is not just getting our passport stamped for a future in Heaven. It is about the now and the future.
The Christian NOW should look different than the world’s NOW. The Christian’s NOW should be on relationships that are healthy and fruitful while staying GROUNDED in Jesus. We are grounded in Jesus and this keeps us open to continually being made more like Christ. Growth is a daily process. We are never done. The world’s now is about instant gratification: people are a temporary means to a greater gain. When someone is advocating to “live their best life now”, they must be careful what fire they will play with to move on up.
We must also look to the future. One day, we will walk with Jesus in Heaven. We will be free of any suffering, racism, hate, turmoil, etc–that we see on Earth. When we walk with Jesus, it will be a glorious moment. And that, my friends, is truly living the Best Life.