How often do you hear that advice? If you have ever gone through a break-up, a job loss, a death, or a crisis I bet you’ve heard that phrase more than once. Now on the surface it seems like good advice right? Don’t focus on other people: get to know yourself again, pamper yourself for a while, do whatever your little heart desires, focus on yourself. But if I’m being honest, that is probably the worst advice I could ever give and have ever been given.
If my focus is on myself, then simply put it’s not on God. That’s a problem y’all. Please don’t misunderstand, we should all have times that we weigh ourselves against the Gospel. Tyler and I like to refer to these as “bug-fixes”. We use them in our marriage where we set aside a time to have a business meeting type conversation that’s simply what I can do better for him and what he can do better for me. (Most of the fixes deal with the piles of laundry I somehow don’t see- whoops!) We can also use “bug-fixes” in our spiritual life. Are you praying continuously? Are you giving thanks in all circumstances? Are you being disciple? Are you discipling another? Do you have an active spiritual life or are you being spoon-fed by your local church? These are all great questions to ask of ourselves to make sure we’re on the right track. After all, adjust just 2 degrees now could have significant repercussions later in life.
So bug-fixes are a good thing. Focusing on yourself in light of how you are glorifying God, also can be good. BUT, and that’s a BIG BUT, to focus on yourself, on your feelings, on your desires and even your dreams apart from God is detrimental. This world is not about us. The bad things that happen aren’t some big cosmic joke on you. Our purpose is to glorify God and bring others into our heavenly family. We can’t fulfill our purpose if we’re focused on ourselves. (Also totally applicable to “the church” [broad church, not specific church], our members need to be discipled yes, but we have to work at bringing others into our family)
The next time you’re tempted to tell someone to “just focus on themselves for a while” take a moment and think about what you’re saying. I would challenge that the best thing you can do in heartbreak or disappointment is not focus on yourself, but to focus on God. In the midst of disappointment the best thing you can do is love God and love others.
Fun fact: no where in the greatest commandment does it say “just focus on yourself”.