Bible, Christian Life, Christianity, denial, fandom, God, growth, inspirational, issues, Jesus, maturity, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, New Testament, Old Testament, personal problems, responsibility, sacrifice, Starlight Glimmer, substitution
Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “The Crystalling”
In this episode, the repentant Starlight Glimmer, who spent most of her life coercing and manipulating people as a substitute for friendship, finds her first “friendship assignment” from Twilight Sparkle to be a hard one: reconciling with her former best friend whose departure led her to become the cruel and controlling individual she was for most of her adulthood. Needless to say, Starlight was more than reluctant. Meeting up with him would not only mean facing up with a painful reminder of her past, but talking things out with him would expose all of the failures she had made since they last parted. The fear she felt about the whole prospect grew so overpowering that she ended up trying to avoid it all together; figuring it would be easier to just forget it. She tried to make excuses and avoid the confrontation at first, then later tried to distract Spike from ensuring she completed the assignment so he’d forget about it, and when she finally did meet with her old friend she tried to keep the conversation as superficial and brief as possible to avoid talking about herself. All to avoid having to deal with this problem as it was too painful to go through.
This, in turn, got me to think about myself. It didn’t take me long after finally moving out from my folks and living on my own to grow more irritable and moody. Some nights I don’t feel like doing housework or even doing anything fun. I lie awake in bed sometimes brooding over the future and picturing myself in my empty house years from now. Even when in the company of my sisters and parents and their families, I still feel down and left out. After dealing with a number of smaller “sins” and problems on the side, I eventually began to realize my main problem: I’m lonely. I don’t feel comforted by the presence of my family because they all have families of their own and I don’t. I fear to lose what people I do have because that means one day I’ll have no one at all. I’m beginning to feel a sense of not belonging anywhere or having anyone and being totally alone. And for anyone who knows about it from personal experience, loneliness is a horrible, horrible feeling.
However, I also began to notice something else: I wasn’t really doing a whole lot to do something about my loneliness. As I’ve mentioned in earlier inspirationals, I have Asperger’s Syndrome. I’m not exactly a social butterfly and I’m incredibly awkward in social situations. Any new person I run into usually leaves me sitting quietly and only saying a few words to them. Being at a party finds me standing in a corner struggling to smile and look like part of the crowd while I keep watching the time for when I get to leave. As lonely as I am, it’s a massive uphill battle to meet people. And even when I do, I know I lose my temper and do awkward things from time to time. I’ve had people outright abandon me or hate me for that, and at times they never said anything about it to me until it reached a breaking point; leaving me feeling betrayed. So, in the end, I began to think it might be easier just to deal with my loneliness…either directly, by giving up on anything social, or indirectly, by playing a video game, burying myself in writing, or doing anything else to distract me from my problem.
But the bottom line is that root problems like this that leave such an impact on us don’t go away no matter how much you cover them up. In my case, every time I successfully distract myself, there will still be nighttime when I’m alone in bed with my thoughts or the morning when I’m alone in the shower with my feelings and the loneliness will come back. No one can avoid their problems by ignoring them or substituting for them. They may be covered up for a while but they still have to be dealt with eventually, or their symptoms will keep being felt either directly or in new ways.
When it came to resolving personal issues, Lord Jesus was never that big on excuses. He ran into a number of would-be followers who wanted to join Him but always had one thing or another holding them back. “Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery,you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.” (Matthew 19:16-22). “He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59-62).
Sometimes people were holding onto something not too worthwhile, and sometimes it was something that seemed valuable. In either case, however, Jesus said to abandon it…not out of some sort of “self-punishment” or mortification but because He knew the Will of God was more important. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24).”Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5).
There are some things that have to be taken care of and done now, no matter how painful or stressful, that anything “easier” can’t substitute for. And there are many cycles that won’t be broken until you confront the issue. To me, it’s like when you want to lose weight. The only way is changing your diet and exercise…permanently. That’s hard and it takes a lot of habit building, but making excuses for it (“I have no time”, “I’ll do it later”, “I’ll just cheat this month and start the next”, etc.) doesn’t help. The only way to do it is to commit yourself to getting through the problem. In the same way, many personal problems and issues can be hard to solve but substituting won’t fix them. You just keep yourself in a state of arrested development the longer you try to avoid the struggle to go through it. And furthermore, yes, most of these issues are hard to resolve and require us to confront ourselves with how badly we want to be over them, and if it’s worth the pain and fear. As Lord Jesus put: “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6).
However, the good news is it’s never for nothing. Again referring to more diet and exercise, it’s painful at first but once you do commit to it and make it a habit, the rewards of being fitter and lighter are undeniable. In the same way, for those who commit to resolving their personal problems, relying on help from God and willing to push through it and do whatever is necessary to resolve them, the end result is not only more happy and fulfilling lives, but freedom to continue to grow and develop as a human being. Furthermore, it also grants an increase in self-discipline and courage to deal with the next issue that comes along, so that we are more capable, courageous, and able to not only help ourselves but others.
That is how one learns maturity and personal responsibility. It’s also how we grow as Christians.
If you yourself are suffering from a long standing problem that you’ve been avoiding or ignoring, I urge you today to pray for God to confront you with it, for the guidance and determination to do what you need to do to resolve it, and fully live to be what God has envisioned you to be.
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for the instruction as outlined in your Word to quickly resolve whatever issues make us angry, bitter, fearful, or otherwise hamper us from growing as individuals–so that we can be free to fully live and fully love. When I’m feeling too weak and uncertain to resolve my own issues that I know I need to deal with, please grant me bravery and strength to press through them. And if I am refusing to see the root cause of pain, loneliness, anger, or depression in my own life, please also grant me the courage to face the true problem so that I can resolve it. And if I need assistance, please grant me the grace and humility to seek that as well. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”