Have you ever heard some spiritual superstar talk about how he or she “heard from God”? My hackles tend to rise immediately upon hearing such talk, invariably in the form of something like, “God told me I should do this”. Worse, “God told me you should do this.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m not that conversant with God that He’s regularly telling me what to do, never mind what others should be doing. I keep up my side of the conversation and look for His response any way and anywhere I can: through friends, His word, nature, and circumstances, for instance. Have you ever directly heard that “still small voice” in your head? I haven’t.
Yes, I think I heard the silent voice of God in my head. I’m going to share it here in hopes that it will be of some help and encouragement to my friends with MS.
I was going through a particularly dark time in my life, which was causing me to be cast down in my spirit. (This was not related to MS as far as I know but, as with everything MS, you never know for sure.) Anyway, I was praying, looking for some help to get out of the doldrums, when suddenly, out of “nowhere”, words simply appeared in my head as if they were beamed down from the mother ship or, maybe more appropriately, the Father Ship. The words were:
Huh? Where did that come from? I knew it was a Bible reference but I had no idea what it said. (This was a long time ago; since then that verse has been indelibly etched on my heart.) Being a dutiful Christian and, more honestly, being desperate for help, I looked it up. Here’s what it says:
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
At first glance, it appeared to have nothing to do with my depressive state. Maybe God put the wrong Zip code on that message and it was meant for someone else. It could be something intended for another circumstance and it arrived too late or too early to be applicable to my current condition.
Or maybe I was imagining it all.
On further consideration, I realized it couldn’t have been more appropriate. I’d been wallowing in my own set of woes, ignoring the needs of others God had put in my path. That’s a perfect recipe for the depression and despair I was experiencing. Getting outside of oneself is the solution to so much that mentally and emotionally ails us.
As the estimable but long-lamented psychologist, Dr. David Rintell has pointed out many times, we can build our resilience by “looking to the interests of others.” Specifically, he says:
Give! Giving to others, in addition to the benefits to those we help, benefits the helper in a number of ways. Research has shown that giving to others is an effective antidepressant, and it’s a great way to build new social connections.
For those of us with MS, the temptation to pull back inside ourselves, to hide and obsess over our conditions, to look only to our own interests—in short, to be selfish—is great. But it’s also dangerous. Avoid that temptation at all costs.
God told me you should. 🙂