J.O.Y. – Jesus, Others, Then Yourself?

J.O.Y. The definition of joy is: love Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last. Right? That’s what I’ve been told all my life in Sunday school and Christian schooling. I believed it for so long, and I had no idea how much damage this had done to my life.

The truth is that it was NEVER meant to work that way. God loved us before we loved him. Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We were never meant to love God before we receive love from him. This may sound self-centered. But in reality, it is humbling to be reminded that we are only humans. We are incapable of loving without receiving God’s love first.

When I don’t love myself and receive God’s love, I am not a loving person. I might seem like it on the outside. Especially since I receive the stereotypes of “nice” and “sweet” so often. But out of my attempts to love God and people well, and giving myself nothing but pressure, I run myself to the ground. Out of my selfish pride I bring myself to a place where I am incapable of giving love to others. In attempts to be selfless, all that happens is that I have these days like today. Days when I feel numb, like the work that I’m doing has no point and yet I’m a slave to it. Days when I am only able to receive the grace of the people I love, and am unable to return the affection that they deserve. The days when I am face-to-face with the brokenness I was trying to avoid, and it grieves me that other people have to deal with it since I didn’t deal with it to begin with.

To all of the fellow perfectionists reading this, I want to tell you that you are enough and what you’re doing is genuinely enough. People tell me consistently that what I do is great and has a big impact. And I don’t believe them. There was a point in my life when I realized that I would, quite literally, never feel satisfied and accomplished unless I did everything without mistakes, that I only gave and never received. But this is not how God made us! We were made with limits, and we have to have the humility to accept them and let God be glorified in them.

My encouragement to you today is take care of yourself, and let other people take care of you. Develop the humility it takes to realize that you have needs, and you can’t do everything. Only out of refusing to neglect yourself will you have genuine love to give to God and to the people in your life.

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