Friday, March 4, 2016

Why Don't You Just Stop It?

One of my friends and I used to have a little running gag. We would send each other a bottle of "Stoppit Spray" if we needed to: stop complaining, stop over-eating, stop making excuses... stop anything.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could just spray this on ourselves to stop an unwanted behavior or thought process?

I think this sketch by the famous TV-psychiatrist Bob Newhart is equally hilarious:

It's funny because on the surface, it seems absurd. But I think on a deeper level, it's funny in an uncomfortable way.

I mean, why DON'T we just STOP IT?

I will tell you why.

We are human.

We are sinners by NATURE. Which means, at the very core of our being, we desire selfish things which conflict continually with the well-being of others and the good of all things.

I want my way. I don't want to wait. I want to be recognized. I want to be respected. I don't want to work. I want to eat that (and that, and that, and that...). I want to watch that. I don't want to exercise. I want to be angry. I deserve respect. I'm afraid. I can't help this. I want to speak my mind. I want revenge. I want justice. I want sympathy.

I want, I want, I want...

Me, me, me...

I once read an interesting quote, and because I studied psychology for years, it struck a very deep chord:

The root of all mental illness is selfishness.

I know this is not true of all mental illness, of course.

But it struck me because I was mentally ill, and it was true for me at that point in my life. I spent many years looking for someone to label my selfishness, my weaknesses, my problems, my lusts, my laziness, and my chosen lack of self-control. I didn't want to take the blame--and wouldn't have to if it was an illness.

But it wasn't an illness.  For me... then, and now, I know that I just need to remember to STOP IT.

The Bible has much to say on this matter.  Have you ever stopped to think about how many times it tells you in the Bible to simply "Stop it?"  Repent. Turn from your wicked ways. Avoid fleshly lusts.  Why would God tell us to do something we were utterly unable to do? Why would He say simply, "Stop it" if we simply could not?

We can.

Are you sick or are you selfish?  There is a sure way to find out.  Shut down your mind. Lift up your eyes and your head and look around. Start looking, listening, helping, and serving others.  Live for others for a few days.

Your family, your husband, your children, your siblings, your parents, your friends: Listen, love, hug, encourage, help, serve, smile, give.

Your home: Be grateful for it, care for it, clean it, make it pretty as a gesture of thanks for God's provision.

The world:  Remember that all you see are needy. They may be discouraged, tired, hurt, sick, depressed, stressed, or struggling. Listen, encourage, smile, help, and give.

Try this for a few days. If you start feeling better, you are not sick. You are just selfish.

That indeed is good news. You can just STOP IT!

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