What if I wanted to destroy you? Without anyone knowing and without you ever suspecting that I had negatively impacted you, what would be my game plan?
There is a way which I could kill your heart, depress your soul, and debilitate your motivation to such an extent that it would have a disastrous impact on your life. And I could do it in a way that you would never suspect.
The Devious Plan
My plan to kill your soul would have three specific steps.
Step one, I would exhaust you. We live with limited energy. That energy is used and then it must be replenished. Without steps of rejuvenation, our bodies begin to work in less effective ways. A tired mind makes bad choices. A depleted body succumbs to temptations. An exhausted body cannot do very much. The very first step I would take to destroy another person would be to subtly remove their times of rejuvenation and convince them that they must continually be working and producing. Over time, a toll would be paid that they wouldn’t even realize they were paying.
Step two, I would isolate you. Human beings are pack animals. We need others in order to survive. Physical and emotional connections are vital. We need to be seen and understood. We must feel as though we are contributing to others in order to fully feel human. Yet relationships are difficult. They can also be easily pushed to the side in order to accomplish what feels like more pressing work. If I wanted to destroy you, I would slyly work so that you begin to ignore the importance of connecting with others. I’d make the work assignment more important than lunch with friends. I would convince you that your child’s ball practice is more vital than a family meal. Every day, I would push you a little more away from community and toward isolation. I would whisper in your ear that others are judging you, they are better than you, if they found out who you actually are they would reject you. If I could, I would make you feel unseen, unknown, and alone. The weight of the world would be on your shoulders and you would feel as though no one was there to help you.
Step three, I would distract you. This final step would have a two-fold effect. First, it would further lead to your exhaustion and isolation. By distracting your mind away from what truly matters to more pressing things, you would continue to work yourself to death and walk away from others without ever realizing what you were doing. Second, in the moments you were tempted to make better choices, distraction would quickly push those thoughts aside by placing other things at the center of your attention. More noise, more hurry, and more work would continually call your name so that you would never experience enough silence and space in order to question if life is really supposed to be this way.
This simple three-step plan would strategically destroy you. It would kill every important relationship in your life. It would deplete your heart and your soul. It would leave you living a shell of the actual life you desired.
The Daily Reality
The truth is I would never want to hurt you. Yet the sad reality is that this plan is not something I would ever have to carry out against another. For many of us, this is the very plan by which we live our lives. What our worst enemy would do to us is the very thing we are doing to ourselves.
How many of us are exhausted? We don’t value sleep. Scientists tell us we need 8-9 hours, but it sounds like a luxury. We don’t turn work off in order to rejuvenate. We don’t strategically plan our days in order to ensure that we have enough energy necessary to accomplish our tasks.
How many of us are isolated? We work, but we don’t always take the time to check-in on those we love. We sometimes go months without spending specific time with life-long friends. We regularly push aside time with our spouse or children in order to do things which feel more pressing.
How many of us are distracted? We spend more time on social media than we do thinking about the big issues of life. Cable news dominates our televisions while unspoken tensions rise in relationships. We know more about what’s on Netflix than what’s happening in our children’s classrooms. We are not using our God-given strengths to attack the greatest problems in our world. Instead, we are regularly fighting pointless battles which feel important today but are forgotten tomorrow.
Every day, a majority of us live in a way that will destroy who we want to be.
A Different Approach
I don’t want to hurt people; I want to help them. Looking at the great threats in our lives, I have devised a simple plan to make us come alive.
The first step is intentionally rejuvenating. Identify what you need in order to regain the energy necessary to accomplish the tasks before you. Some are non-negotiable–sleep, nutrition, and exercise. The exact details of those things might differ based on the individual, but the overall concept cannot be ignored by any person. We never put the wrong gasoline in our cars or go thousands of miles over before getting an oil change, yet we regularly live off of foods which were never intended to be consumed and fail to work and rest our bodies as they were designed to be. Beyond the big three, we must identify what specifically places joy back in our heart–art, relationships, serving others, worship, etc. Then we must value these things enough to place them in our weekly routines. What is one thing you will do today solely because it will bring you life?
The second step is connecting with others. We must have close relationships with other people in order to operate at our best. While some might need more people than others, everybody needs somebody (or a few somebodies). Everyone needs a friend to have lunch with, others with whom they can enjoy activities, family which sticks beside us no matter what might occur, or co-workers who care for us beyond our ability to get the job done. These relationships don’t always nourish themselves naturally. Instead, we must continually value relationships and do the hard work to ensure that we stay connected with others–make the time, initiate invitations, forgive one another, push aside other responsibilities in order to value one another, have a family meal, turn off our cell phones, etc. What is one step you can take today to connect with someone you love?
The third step is focusing on what truly matters. We live in the age of distraction. Never has attention and intention been so important in order for humans to survive. If we are not consciously choosing what we see, hear, and give our attention to, we are certain to be distracted by things that simply do not matter. Every morning requires some time to clear our minds, be reminded of what is truly important, and making concrete choices of what deserves a majority of our time and attention. What is one thing you should accomplish today?
Wow. Practical. Convicting. Challenging.