Exhausted All the Time
I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. 2 Corinthians 12:15
In my drug use, I was exhausted all the time. Anxious and unmotivated, I couldn’t fall asleep at night and then slept in as late as I could in the morning. I was lazy, not enjoying exercise or any of the things I used to enjoy. I put on weight – a lot of it. I was depressed because I hated who I was, which left me feeling hopeless. The thought of helping others wasn’t on my radar and I really didn’t have much time or energy to put into my spiritual life. I lived only for myself, which seemed like it should be fulfilling, but instead, it drained me. The life of following me was exhausting and left me empty.
In today’s passage, Paul describes a completely different experience. In it, he described how he gladly gave of himself, spending and being spent for the sake of others. Though he gave radically, he had an endless supply of love to share with those around him. Elsewhere (Philippians 3:7-11) Paul described how he sacrificed everything to pursue his relationship with Christ, which is where he found his ultimate joy, meaning, and purpose. Paul’s energy didn’t come from seeking his own fulfillment. Paradoxically, it came in abandoning himself, seeking God, and loving others. In giving of himself he tapped into the Spirit-filled life, an endless source of life and energy for his soul.
In recovery, I’m learning this. Early on, when my life was still a disaster and I was trying to put everything back together, circumstances threatened to overwhelm me. At that time, I found great comfort in volunteering at the local jail, serving others. Where I would have previously lived for the weekend, seeking only my own pleasures, I began to serve the interests of others. This didn’t provide the immediate gratification that the pill did, but instead, provided lasting joy, without the destructive aftermath. In living for the good of my neighbors, I got out of my own head, abandoned my anxieties, and was filled with life, joy, and peace.
As I said, I’m still learning. I still have days where I’d rather just do what I want than to invest in others. Still though, I find that in recovery, as I share my experience and hope with those in need, I have infinitely more energy than I ever did in living for myself. I’m not saying I never get tired. I’m just saying that in following God and spending my energy on others instead of myself, God fills me with life and purpose like I’ve never known before.