Put Yourself Last

I have always put myself first.

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Live for yourself and nobody else. The key to lasting joy and happiness.

So my life ended up becoming a series of wait-until-i-can-do-what-i-want cycles and because of that it felt like I was always in transit. I was always waiting for my next break. Everything I did was half-hearted and only partially sincere because I believed taking control was my reward for being dutiful and obedient. 

But my greatest epiphany at the time was that I didn’t have to earn control, I just had to take it.

I mean, what freedom could anyone possibly enjoy within control and boundaries? They’re never really happy. They just weren’t brave and bold enough –  it was a delusion.

Oddly enough, only when you get everything you want do you really understand and find out what you really need.

At three points in life I have had every aspect of it in the perfect balance (family, relationship, friendships, career, church, money, purpose, passions, health, and self).

But after every time I become aware that I have everything I want the high disappears and I become instantly terrified because I know it would all go downhill. I dreaded living the next series of events to come, because life couldn’t stay this perfect and those realizations always fed that anxiety. Eventually it starts to build up and that’s when I unconsciously sabotage everything.

Because the reality of always putting yourself first is that in return you will automatically revert back to step one again and again and again – until you learn your lesson.

After the second time, I did learn my lesson. By putting Him first and letting Him slowly take control I was finally doing it right – up until I reached that third perfect point of my life. Not knowing what to do with it, I took back control.

Only after sabotaging everything for a third time did I see that I still held on to a handful of control in my life, I surrendered about ninety five percent but it still wasn’t enough.

How did I know? Because I was still anxious and plagued by fear.

Living in this “me” generation teaches us to put ourselves first and I realized that I obeyed God for the reward I knew I would get, connecting with Him was just second priority – I used Him for my benefit.

Last August 2014 was when He saved me but only in April 2015 did I understand what the real cost and value of following Him is. I stopped everything I knew was wrong in His eyes but I got stuck. I found myself having a hard time consistently following His ways and I found myself missing a lot of the things I used to do because I obeyed Him for the wrong motives.

If you’re still missing the person you used to be, you’re missing the whole point.

I realized that what I was doing since August was plucking out the bad fruits that were growing from my tree but I didn’t know that what I had to do was uproot the tree entirely and plant a new seed. By simply removing the bad fruit, since I was growing them from the same root, all my time and energy was just spent getting rid of them.

That was when I understood that the cost of following Him would really entail giving everything up (100%) completely and consistently – only then could I truly be free. That following Him would mean establishing a real relationship through prayer and worship, getting to know Him through the Bible, and surrounding myself with a community I could grow with and learn about Him from.

It’s just like getting to know someone before you pursue them, you have to spend time with them to know them fully and to be able to like them, appreciate them, respect them, value them and love them.

“To be loved and not known is pointless. To be known and loved is devastating. But to be completely known and adored and loved is the absolute.”

He knows you and loves you because He created you. Try and find out how it is to still be loved and adored by someone who knows you for every flaw and mistake you made and are about to make.

It’s hard to trust and obey your parents when you are indifferent to them. It’s hard to get into a relationship with someone you don’t completely trust. It’s hard to follow and love someone you think you don’t need in your life.

How can you force yourself to love and connect with someone you don’t know?

How can you establish a real relationship if you’re only there to take?

It says in the book of Romans that what really hurts and kills us in this life is selfishness, pride, hardness of heart, denial of your flaws and weaknesses, and the belief that you don’t need God.

The last couple of weeks have been painful awakening to a lot of lies I believed in, flaws I refused to acknowledge, and the truth that living for Him means putting myself last and putting Him first.

The nature of love is to delight in the other. To want what makes them happy, to love what they love, to enjoy what they enjoy, and to value what they value – to put them first. It means putting the needs of others before mine, it means loving the unlovable, being kind to the cruel, being understanding to the unreasonable, and being forgiving to the unforgivable.

The truth is by putting ourselves first, we look to the world for a satisfaction that only God can give.

You will always reach a point where you get what you want and think “now what?”. Whether it’s a relationship, a job, or a pursuit, the point of acquisition will never translate into a lasting joy and satisfaction.

Lately, I’ve arrived at another series of endings I find hard to understand. My third one in a span of four years. Another radical shift in almost every aspect of my life and what’s worse is that this time, I didn’t even bother coming up with a Plan B in anticipation. But this time around, I’m no longer terrified nor chained to any fear or worry.  I’m done rehearsing a minute’s worth of words that make it seem like I am okay. I am finally in complete surrender because one hundred percent of my control has been given back to the one who truly was supposed to have it all along.

What I’ve committed to is faith and obedience in His word and His commands, a life devoted to putting the one I love most first. And only He can help me learn and understand how to do that, to teach me how to enjoy the sunny days and go through the storms.

Most importantly, to sacrifice and surrender not only the bad things but even the good things.

I’ve challenged Him recently through prayer and naively asked that if He really wanted me to follow Him, He would have to create opportunities and situations for me to able to and to clearly give me the commands to obey.

Suffice to say, be careful what you pray for because that is exactly what is happening right now. This complete redirection and the bittersweet decisions and events I’ve come to slowly embrace makes no sense at all. Yet my heart is surprisingly at peace and at rest and I find that I can still be joyful and grateful for where I am right now.

Why? Because I know, trust, and love Him.

By putting Him first in every aspect of my life, every aspect of my life also falls into place because I have faith that He knows what’s best for me and that makes me want to obey Him all the more.

With His help and guidance, I’ve slowly come to learn and even enjoy the process of genuinely finding ways to heal, give, help, and put myself last in every thing that I do.

Photo: Shek Bangsil | Location: Fort Bangsil

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