Stuck in My Own Head
I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. Revelations 2:19
In medicine, we practice preventative care, which means we’re supposed to manage a patient’s blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose before they damage the brain, kidneys, and heart. When these things are abnormally elevated, we usually prescribe medications. Often, we know that the healthiest option would be to exercise, eat right, and lose weight. Of course, we recommend those things, but we know that very few patients will do them. So, we do what we can. We prescribe medications and we try to manage the risk factors without changing the patient’s lifestyle because we can’t force patients to change their behavior. This isn’t entirely fair. Not all risk factors can be mitigated with lifestyle changes, but you get the idea.
I’ve found this principle to be true in other areas of life as well. Personally, when I was first in recovery and my life was still a mess, I wrestled with tremendous angst about my future. My life was an absolute disaster as my family and career were teetering on the brink. It was tempting to reach for a medication to help mitigate my stress, but instead, I began volunteering at the local jail. I don’t think I did it for this reason, but service to others was profoundly therapeutic for my own stress. A prescription would have been easier, but – just like exercise for elevated blood pressure – service was what I actually needed to get me out of my own head.
So now, when I see others struggling as I have – new to faith and recovery but with life still a mess – I encourage them to engage in some sort of service. Serving others in need is often the exact thing they need to get out of their own heads. This isn’t just my experience though. This is Christ’s prescription. Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). In today’s passage, he told the church in Thyatira how much he loved their service and good works. We don’t earn God’s love, but in following our way, we choose opposition to him. In following God’s way, we align ourselves with him.
Serving those around us in need is a lot of work, but at some point, we must realize that, just like with a healthy diet and exercise, service is just self-preservation. Yes, we serve others to do good for them, but serving others is emotionally and spiritually healthy for us as well. If we need to get out of our own heads, often, we simply need to love and care for those around us who’re in need.