Taylor and I enjoyed a short getaway to Destin, FL, this past weekend. It was perfect. Sure, the Destin/Fort Walton Beach area is perfect (sand-dunes, Irish pubs, great pizza, white beaches…HELLO)…but what made our weekend perfect was the fact that we had four hours of road trip to have a long, hard talk about life. You see, life has been really, really good lately. In fact, it’s been so good, that we’ve been enjoying it a little too much since we’ve been married. Besides work, ministry, and school, we spend a lot of our free time on ourselves—our comforts, which include great coffee, great wine, great food, great home-made desserts, and a whole lot of The X-Files episodes. Now, right off the bat you’d think, “well, what’s wrong with that?” and on the surface, there isn’t anything wrong with that. But the issue is deeper and a bit more complicated. You see, Taylor and I have been mega-indulging-ourselves lately. While most people tend to tell us it’s okay because we’re newly-weds, and while initially, we bought along with the fact, we eventually began to feel quite different. You see, friends, self-indulgence leads to self-focus, which leads to selfishness and laziness and ultimately the opposite of everything we believe.
I recently wrote a blog post called, “Why Follow Your Heart is the Worst Advice Ever.” It was an honest post about how deceptive our heart is and why we should do the opposite if what it says. In other words, your heart is bi-polar and when making decisions, follow your mind instead. Your mind isn’t an emotional-hot-mess that makes biased and sometimes regrettable decisions. Now, self-indulgence works in the same way, but on a deeper level. The more you indulge self, the more you’re ultimately giving your heart what it wants. On the surface, it may feel good…but after a while, you end up feeling blah and bored and weirdly empty and thinking you need more to feel satisfied. Kinda like what happens when you eat too much junk. The pizza and ice cream and fried foods taste good on your tongue, at first. But after a while, you feel grossly full and blah and lethargic and eventually you start to see the pounds adding up on your body, which in turn, makes you feel more blah and lethargic. You can almost feel your insides begging for some clean energy to fuel off of. Too much self-indulgence (as we all know) is never a good thing when it comes to food and your body, so why would it be any different when it comes to life?
It’s the same idea on the contrast. A lot of self-denial is praised when it comes to putting your body through the ringer in personal fitness. Pushing your body in weight training, running, and the sorts is looked well upon, isn’t it? Self-denial in the weight room or the running track (going harder when you feel like quitting) provides such beautiful results (not only physically) with so many life lessons attached to it like perseverance and motivation and determination. Who (besides the injured…or really lazy person) disagrees with the truth that if you deny yourself a little extra sleep and just get up to work out, you’ll feel better, think clearer, be more productive (and studies show even feel overall happier) afterwards. Self-denial is a really awesome thing when it comes to our body, so why would it be any different when it comes to life, as well?
We live in a binge-obsessed culture. More Netflix. More food. More alcohol. More money. More success. More. More. More. More. We live in a culture that constantly feeds us the lie that more of everything will only make us feel better…when in all actuality, more is destroying us…only leading us to more emptiness and more of just, well, wanting more…with never actually getting enough.
Dear friends, have you been indulging in self lately? The kind of indulgence that tricks you into feeling the initial more-high, but then leaves you empty and blah and dissatisfied? Have you been feeding your bottomless pit of more-ness to only realize you’ll never quite get enough?
There’s a fix to this disease, folks.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
After all, friends, what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?