A lot of trends seem to have begun with my generation. Sadly, not all of them are positive. Many in my generation made fun of our parents and grandparents who basically accepted life as it was; had a job that might not have been “fulfilling,” but which put food on the table; took seriously their marriage vows; and raised their children to be productive members of society. We were taught by many in the fields of entertainment and education that life had to be more than that. While all of us did not “tune in; turn on; and drop out,” we were definitely encouraged to ”find ourselves.”
That quest that gained momentum during the sixties has produced a philosophy about life that increasingly looks inward instead of outward (and definitely not upward). It seems to me that each succeeding generation has become more and more narcissistic. Now we have people all the way from retirement age down to the earliest age at which toddlers begin to reason with a similar view of life. They believe that life is all about them. Their major concerns are how they can please themselves; how they can be happy; how they can feel fulfilled; etc. In short, more and more people are on a lifelong quest to “find themselves.”
It is my observation that many of my friends, some of my family members, and even some brothers and sisters in Christ have lost something of great value in this quest to “find themselves.” Sometimes, that which has been lost can never be regained.
That last paragraph could also be written in the present tense. I fear that many whom I know and whom I love are presently losing something of great value as they pursue a career, pleasure, education, sports, and a host of other things in an attempt to “find themselves.”
If you are, or even think you could be, one who is trying to find yourself, may I please ask you to consider what you are in danger of losing in that pursuit? While the list below may not be complete, it is my prayer that it will serve as a “wake-up call.”
- Your spouse. He/she still loves you and really doesn’t know what to do to keep you from destroying a relationship that could be a lot more fulfilling for both of you than it presently is. Do you remember when all you wanted to do was spend time together? Have you “sold” that so that you can find yourself? Is it really worth it?
- Your children. They did not ask to be brought into this world. They do not need the things that you can buy them, nor do they need all the places you can take them or activities you encourage them to participate in. These can either be attempts to “buy them off” as you find yourself or they may be attempts to help them find themselves. Regardless of which they are, your children do not need them as much as they need you.
- Your friends. I mean your real friends: those who used to be (and many still are) with you through the bad times as well as the good; those who would be there for you all through life if you would let them; those who may love you enough to try to tell you some things that you may not want to hear if you would slow down long enough to listen. If you could hear their prayers, you might realize what you are in danger of sacrificing.
- Your reputation. There are those who remember the “old” you and liked him or her a lot better. He or she had time for others, was fun to be around, and cared about the really important things. Some who are trying to find themselves have ruined their reputation by getting involved in an illegal and/or immoral lifestyle. Others have not gone that far, but their reputation is surely not what it used to be.
- Your health. Whether it is from overwork, ingesting dangerous substances, sexually transmitted diseases, or any number of other things, far too many have “found themselves” trying in vain to recover the good health they once enjoyed. In many cases, their life is much shorter than it could have been.
- Your soul. Regardless of what philosophy of life may be adopted by a particular generation, the Bible will always teach that God, not self, must come first. There is not enough room on the throne of one’s heart for two people. The occupant of that throne cannot be God and anybody or anything else. It must be only God. Our lives will have been a total and complete failure if they are spent in any other pursuit than the pursuit of a personal and obedient relationship with Him.
How many of us know what really is important concerning our relationship with God and our hope of heaven, but are doing things that indicate that our real interests are elsewhere? What are you losing while trying to find yourself?
- Jim Faughn serves as an elder and preacher for the Central church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org