“Girl, it’s not about you..” *whispers to self for the twentieth time today*
I’m sure most of you are aware of self-help books. These books are everywhere on social media and in stores, and in the minds and hearts of the countless women who have read them.
Before I begin, I want to preface by stating that this is not a post meant to tear anyone down or bash these books. I am not writing this as a critic. My full intent is to shed light on the ways of living and thinking that self-proclaimed believers and non-believers alike tell us is right, and how they sadly differ from the true Gospel. Long story short, be careful what you read.
What are some of the main ideologies found in these books?
Lies we believe about ourselves.
This is one of the first main points I see in these books. We are told that on our own we are enough, to follow our hearts, do whatever we feel, and to trust ourselves. Sisters, these lies are not from ourselves, the media, or other people. These lies are presented through those from the Enemy. People are not your problem; Satan uses them in his schemes against you. Tell me, have you ever been so irritated that you’ve snapped at the next person who says something to you? That’s the enemy using that next person because he knows it will push you past your limit. These lies have sprouted from a secular worldview created by the Enemy and presented to our feeble human selves as empowering, fulfilling, and right. He convinces us that the Lord can’t love us if we’re broken. My dear sisters, Jesus died for our brokenness to make us whole.
We don’t like being told that something we do or a way we think isn’t right. We use what we think is right in our own minds to justify ourselves so we don’t have to change or give it up. However, we need to realize we are sinful people, and that the Lord alone offers true fulfillment and redemption. Truth is, we are not enough. There wouldn’t have been a cross or an empty tomb if we were. We can’t be enough, and we don’t need to be enough, Jesus is.
The constant push for more.
Two words: prosperity gospel. This concept can be dangerous. What’s wrong with goals and ambitions? Nothing. But, do those goals and ambitions line up with the Lord? When we base our lives strictly off goals and plans, we soon realize just how much we are not in control. This main idea in the books of prioritizing yourself above all, and that how you feel is all that matters, is a slippery slope…with extra Dawn dish soap on top.
I will never find happiness in “more”. No one will. This is a hard pill to swallow and I often catch myself falling victim to this. Would my husband and I love to be in a house of our own and out of an apartment? Yes. Would we love to be starting a family? Absolutely. But then what? Say we buy a house and have a baby – then we’d need a new/larger vehicle, right? And then maybe a bigger home? A better job? More money?
Is it wrong to want those things? No. However, is it wrong for me to think that those things will satisfy me more than I’m satisfied now? Of course, they would bring me joy in the moment. But I know that when I land there I would want more. As Charles Spurgeon, a great theologian and preacher once said, “If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.”
When I catch myself thinking about what I want, I end up disappointed with the “now”. How sad is that? Do you know what my “now” looks like? A husband who loves the Lord, a roof over our heads, food in our pantry, clothes in our closet, vehicles in the parking lot, paychecks in our account, friendships that draw us closer to Jesus, wonderful families, service together at our church, and health. The concept of constantly pushing for more for “your own happiness” can be a slap in the face to the God who gives us everything we could ever need in His time. We rush too much. We forget that what we want may not be what we need right now. And sisters, remember that God is good at being God.
This doesn’t mean we just stop. Complacency and contentment are two very different ideas. Complacency is associated with laziness and comfortability, while contentment is associated with thankfulness. As Christians, we are called to walk in the Name of the Lord and to put on the armor of God. Walking is an action – moving forward, marching into battle. We push, we strive, we better ourselves to become more like Jesus for his Kingdom, not for our own personal gain. Only one thing can fill the voids we have in our lives – Jesus. He makes us truly whole, all else is fleeting.
You are in charge of your own happiness.
I realize I may take a little heat for this one, and that’s okay. In self-help ideologies, we are told that we are in charge of our “destiny” through our own self-sufficiency. We are told to “live our truth”. Why is this dangerous? This ideology gives us the justification we desire for our sin. Jesus tells us in John 14:6 that he is the way, the truth, and the life. Who are we to think we control our lives more than the One who created us? We can absolutely change our attitudes and reactions to what happens to us, and the way we respond to situations. Sometimes bad things happen in our lives as a result of sin. However, there are bad things in people’s lives that are not a result of sin. We must not think that God allows problems to happen to take away our happiness, but rather He does so to grow our holiness. God instructs, guides, strengthens, and grows his children.
Here’s a point that self-help ideologies will never make, and that is the actual truth:
God will never lead you to yourself.
What does that mean? Jesus never said to look to yourself for what you need – he said, “Come to me.”
Be wary of authors, speakers, and influencers who twist interpretations of Scripture to fit their ideals or the ways of the world, and who ignore the Lord’s warning to neither add or take away from the Word of God. Don’t be fooled by pretty pictures, captivating speaking skills, or enticing writing that they use to justify their false teaching, your feelings, and society. We can’t change the Word of God to “fit” what we, or society, want.
Sisters, I prayerfully encourage you to study God’s Word. If you already are, I pray that you continue to dive deeper to gain even greater understanding. If you want to study God’s Word but are cautious or unsure, trust me when I say that once you begin studying Scripture, you’ll come to realize it’s far more beautiful than anything else you could read. Jesus will meet you where you are.
Your sister in Christ – kayley jean, a wife redeemed