There is a clear danger in life today – a lack of self awareness. We get so caught up in the chaos of life that we don’t slow down to evaluate our hearts. What often happens as a result is a person who is left feeling exhausted, anxious, confused or, my personal way of describing it, emotionally knotted up. We’re then met with the all too familiar situation where we’re invited into a deeper relationship with others or with God, and we want so desperately to engage on a meaningful level, but we can’t. Then we often do one of two things; we retreat with a sense of shame, or we blame others. The voice of failure says, ‘You should be able to do this easily’; or, our own internal voice draws us to focus on anything but our own heart. In either scenario, we become even more knotted up. We sense that something is wrong, but we don’t understand what. We’re left to fill in the gaps and it becomes a nasty cycle that draws our hearts farther away from God, rather than closer to Him.
Let me assure you, God does not want that for your life. He is the God of love, of peace, and of life – all of which are found in Him. We will not find these things apart from Him. We will not find peace and life in our social media feeds, or in our political parties, or in our Netflix shows, or in the things we own. We must abide in God, because He is peace, He is love, and He is life. To do so, we must first have self awareness. We need to know where our hearts are at all times. Allow me to offer two practical steps that may help you gain greater self-awareness.
In any given day, there are potentially hundreds, if not thousands of voices that enter and leave our lives. We have a stadium of people screaming their opinions at us via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, Fox, CNN, Netflix, the list goes on and on. But, here’s the sad reality of it – those voices don’t care about the condition of your heart. “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (Proverbs 18:2). This should be eye opening to us for one of two reasons. Either you are letting these voices have significantly more weight in your life than they should or, you’re one of the shouting voices in someone else’s life. In either case, if we want greater self-awareness, we need to silence the unnecessary chatter. We must unplug. I am not saying that you must delete social media or cancel your Netflix subscription (power to you if you do though). Instead, consider scheduling in an hour a day, or one day a week, or one week a month, or a month out of a year where you unplug from all the unnecessary chatter. Chances are, you’ll find that it is at first actually quite scary, because the chaos outside was distracting from the chaos within, but then you will also find that the silence is actually a blessing. When you choose to fill that new silence with good things – God’s Word, the voices of those who actually care about you, prayer; growth occurs.
USE THE RELATIONSHIPS AROUND YOU AS INDICATORS
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin… Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness” (1 John 1:7, 2:9). John does not mince words. Our relationships should mimic Christ’s love for us. Whether they do or do not are perfect indicators of the condition of our heart.
There’s a troubling movement today that has crafted a “Christian” theology that says – You can love God but dislike, or even hate, anyone else. So, we go to church on Sunday and worship. Then, we slander those who are different from us. We dehumanize and condemn them over petty differences. Popular beliefs about God tell us that it is either okay or, not something worth worrying about. If you believe in a god that allows you to love him but hate others, then you do not believe in the God of the Bible. That should rattle us, because it is a very easy temptation to give into – a sin that I commit daily.
Allow me to challenge you to evaluate your relationships for the sake of your own heart. As you evaluate your heart, you may discover that a few different things may be true. You may actually love others like Christ has loved you. Praise God; now go and disciple others so that they may do so as well. You may realize that you do not love others like Christ has loved you and are ashamed. Don’t lose hope. The answer to loving others better is not to be perfect. To love like Christ, we must cling to Christ. If you’re not sure what that looks like, start a conversation with someone who models that well. Finally, you may realize that you do not love others like Christ has loved you and you don’t have an interest in changing. I plead with you to confess and repent, because you are not living in truth but rather in darkness. In all things, we must never forget the graciousness of our Savior to which John points to when he says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
My prayer and hope for you would be that you would enter into these things with boldness. If unplugging from the chaos of the world or evaluating your love for others doesn’t stretch you, then chances are there’s more growth to be had. It takes courage to dive deep like that. Take courage. Involve others who love you. Set the eyes of your heart on Christ, His love, and His truth. There’s too much at stake to remain passive in these things. Exercise self-awareness for the sake of your heart.