You know, there was a secular song a few years ago titled Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places. Now, not to worry, this is not a discourse on a modern secular country and western song, but the title was an inspiration to me in light of something that I have been reflecting on the last few days and studying over.
I have noticed something in myself that I think must be, to one degree or another, endemic to fallen human nature, although certainly more pronounced in some than in others. I found myself in the last few days feeling neglected and unloved because my husband did not spend the time with me that I thought he ought to and I was feeling that other things that he was doing were more important to him than his family (by family you understand of course that I meant me). I was hurt and feeling rejected because I felt he was not showing me the love or making me the priority that I felt he should and it was clouding my whole personality and making me bitter. My heart hurt like it had an open wound and I was ready to give up entirely on my marriage and my family, feeling the futility of it, and wondering why I should remain in such a painful situation. In the space of just a few short days, I gained a much clearer perspective into how so many marriages, be they monogamous or polygamous, start to fall apart, even when the partners love each other and are devout believers in Yahweh.
During this time I prayed and studied and cried and wailed. All the time I was blaming my husband for my pain, feeling that if he would DO something or show me some ATTENTION, somehow that would make everything better. I truly believed that he was the source of my unhappiness and discontent. I felt that because I was such a low priority to him, that was the reason for my misery. Is anyone beginning to see a pattern here? An I/me/mine attitude was beginning to pervade all my thoughts and the more I focused on myself and how I felt wronged the more and more miserable I became. As I studied on this and studied scriptures there were two concepts that began to become very clear to me.
The first concept would likely be the most obvious to a Christian/Messianic. The selfishness of the I/me/mine mindset is so clearly a worldly and carnal attitude that any discerning Christian/Messianic should be able to see at once the incompatibility of such an attitude with any kind of abiding spiritual peace. Scripture tells us clearly that we must die to self to attain the peace that passes all understanding. In the nineteenth chapter of the book of Matthew we find the Savior counseling the rich man to sell all his possessions and give them to the poor, then follow Him. The rich man could not understand this, for he was unable to let go of the selfish desire for the things of the world. He wanted the peace and satisfaction of salvation, but did not want to pay the price for it. He was unable to understand in his carnal nature, that the love and peace he sought were only to be found when self had been defeated and selflessness in Christ took its place. There are several passages in scripture that illustrate this concept perfectly I think.
Proverbs 18:1 He who separates himself seeks his own desire, he quarrels against all sound wisdom.
Matthew 19:21-22 Yah'shua (Jesus) said unto him, 'If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me'. But when the young man heard this statement he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property.
James 3:16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
Well demonstrated, I think, the critical need for us to train our thinking away from the absorption with self. There are a couple of profound revelations from the Olive Branch that touch on this subject as well.
OB 113:113-115 Selfishness is as a cancer to the Body and will destroy it, saith Yahweh. Therefore if ye love this work, ye will all thrust in with your might, mind and strength, sharing equally the yoke, otherwise ye cannot arise into your endowment. And if My Body is not endowed, it will whither away and perish.
OB 64:19-28 This is the Law of Multiplication and is the fruit of those who know Me and love me. And as ye ask Me for blessings according to the Law of Multiplication, so shall I not withhold, for I cannot withhold but must bless you. But if ye ask Me for blessings for yourselves, that ye may consume them upon your lusts and not multiply them for the children of the Kingdom, then your hope shall not be rewarded, and your prayers shall be in vain. For that which is selfish is not expedient, neither profitable unto you nor the Body (Church). And if the Son of Man blesseth a man with that which is not right (because he hath asked for it), then it shall condemn him, and the Son of Man shall be shown to be a liar. But I am Truth, and I act only for the everlasting happiness of man. Therefore see that ye do not ask amiss, for such only bringeth disappointment and sorrow. Forget yourselves, O ye children of Light, and seek not to be the center of attention and glory, but surrender all you desires unto Me, that I may abide in you, and you in Me. I have come unto this, the New Covenant, not to coddle your fallen natures, but to burn you that you might be truly free. Seek after charity (agapé/ahavah love), which is the pure love of Christ, and it shall go well with you, for all else will fail without it. Amen.
So it is clearly expounded that the way of the child of the Light cannot be through preoccupation with self, with whether or not I have what I need or want, or whether or not I am receiving what I am entitled to. We can in no wise progress to spiritual maturity, nor can we reap the richest of the blessings that Yahweh has for us as long as we long through the lens of selfishness and self-absorption. As one member of the Body, each individual must learn to look outward and seek the good of the entire body, and let go of concern over what he may desire or think he needs. That is the way of Yah'shua, who demonstrated such selfless and sacrificial regard that He laid down His life, when He did not have to, in obedience to the will of the Father, for the salvation of all who would believe and follow Him. Self must die to be replaced by the selfless, sacrificial love and regard for those around us. This is not something routinely taught in this end-time culture, but is so vital to the peace and love that Yahweh intended His children to abide in. Thus we see, the first problem that must be overcome to avoid resentment and unhappiness is selfishness and self-absorption.
I think the second critical error we tend to make, especially women, is we tend to make another person responsible for our happiness. Our entire sense of self-esteem and self-worth is easily tied up into what perceptions we have of what those around us, particularly our spouses, and for those of us in plural marriages, sister-wives, think of us. Women in particular are prone to develop problems of this nature, because of the submission we are instructed to evidence to our husbands. You see, biblically, our husbands hold so much authority over us, that we can, if not very careful, develop an idolatrous attitude toward them, thinking that our worth is solely tied up in him and how he feels about us. But the truth is that human feelings, men's or women's, are not reliable and to place that much responsibility on another person for our happiness is a recipe for disaster, for all human beings are fallible, all human beings get their priorities mixed up, all human beings have less-than-perfect perceptions and we must not allow a person to be the determinant of our satisfaction and peace spiritually. We must submit in righteous obedience to our husbands, yes, but we must not think that he is the path to our salvation. He is a fallible man working out his own salvation with fear and trembling, and the simple truth is that his priorities frequently will be somewhere else. So what does this mean in regards to how to seek happiness and contentment in this earthly life? Well we have already covered the need to do away with selfish self-absorption and learn to seek the best for those around us, and to do this genuinely and cheerfully, but there is another very important concept we must learn.
We must learn that Christ alone is sufficient for all our needs. We must learn to give up the desire for all of those we hold dear to us, our husbands, wives, children, parents, siblings, etc. We must reach a mind-set where we are willing to give them up and reside solely in Christ. Let us see what scripture can show us about this concept.
Luke 14:26-28,33 If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? So therefore, no one of you can be my disciple, unless you give up all his own possessions.
Matthew 19:29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or farms for my Name's sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life.
Romans 6:6-7 ...knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin, for he who has died is freed from sin.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.
Galatians 5:24 now those who belong to Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
2 Corinthians 5:15 ...and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
There is a strong, and prevalent pattern evolving here. To be a true disciple, one of the firstborn, even, one must be willing to give up everything and everyone to follow Christ. One must rest all his hopes and dreams and needs and desires solely in Christ with absolute faith that He is sufficient to meet all needs. Scripture tells us that one who does this will receive what he has lost back many times over, but sometimes that is difficult for us to perceive in the short term. This is when it becomes an issue of trust. We must learn to trust absolutely that, as long as we are of the Lord, He will always act in our best interest. It is necessary to be satisfied solely with Yah'shua, even should we be deserted by everyone else we know, and lose everything we have. There are some Olive Branch revelations I would like to share with you regarding this concept as well.
OB 44:16-17 Verily, verily. I say unto you; Blessed are they who are alone and [who are therefore] the elect of Yahweh, for they shall find the Kingdom of Heaven, because they have come out of it and shall return to it again. If any man asketh you: 'From whence have ye come?' ye shall say unto him: 'We have come from the Light, from that place where the Light began and was made.'
OB 44:35-41 When ye are alone, then ye shall become free, and your perplexities and anxieties shall be taken away. Then when ye have crossed that veil into the Assembly of the Firstborn (Chavurat Bekorot), I shall give back unto you all that you laid down; Yea, I shall bless you and multiply you and give unto you a hundredfold in this world of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal life in the eternal worlds. But ye have not found the Kingdom because ye have not been alone and been satisfied, saith Yahweh. If a man hath a perplexity or a tribulation of soul, let him seek Me alone and ask himself; 'What do I seek?' And if he is honest with himself, he will say: 'I seek to be loved by a husband or a wife, by a lover, by a child, by a friend; and I need to be loved that I may have worth.' But I, Yahweh, say unto you, that if ye say this, ye have sinned and not understood, for when a man seeketh after love from the children of men, he shall seek to obtain it by any means, fair or foul. And he will love only because he desireth to be loved, and thus he shall never be satisfied, for he shall never be loved enough.
There is one more revelation from the Olive Branch I would like to share with you. I found it illuminating and very instructive:
OB 214:73,75 I have not called you to cease thinking, or feeling, or seeking [sexual] union in your marriages, but to center yourselves on higher principles. It is expedient at certain times that the mind, heart, and passions should be compelled into silence that ye might find the Firstborn. And for this cause it is expedient that ye should detach yourselves from time to time from that which holdeth you down that ye might seek and find the more subtle elements of life.
There are some very profound concepts here. Are we being told to quit loving our spouses? By no means. We are to love our families totally without counting the cost, and without expecting them to love us in return. We must learn not to make another person responsible for our peace and tranquility, much less our happiness, as that can only happen through a close and obedient relationship with Yah'shua. We must learn to be at peace and content solely with our relationship with Him and count the other relationships He has blessed us with as blessings, (gravy, if you will), wonderful gifts but unnecessary for our completion or happiness. This may sound a little foreign to many of you but it is born out in scripture. If we place the responsibility for our happiness or self-esteem on another person, then we are dangerously close to holding that person in an idolatrous attitude. We must reach a point spiritually that, even if totally alone by the world's definition, we know we are creatures of worth and purpose because of our relationship with, and salvation by, Yah'shua. For you see, people will hurt us and let us down, even those who love us and do not mean to. And the surest protection from the pain and disappointment that these kinds of situations can cause is an attitude of satisfaction in our relationship with Christ and a true, spiritual realization that, while loving and close relationships with others are a truly wonderful blessing, they are not essential to our spiritual and emotional survival. In fact, without the proper focus on Yah'shua and the realization that He, in fact, is sufficient to answer any and every need we have, that kind of dependence on others can actually lead to spiritual decay and despondency, for when we seek love from imperfect humans, and need it to fulfill ourselves, we will never find enough, hence we will never be at peace.
So did my husband ignore me and not pay enough attention? Immaterial. Did he have more important priorities? Immaterial. Was my relationship to Christ what it should have been? Unhappily, I think not, for I sought a man's love and acceptance before I sought my Saviour and the simple truth is, without that priority being straight, I can never be where I want to be spiritually, never be truly one of the firstborn, nor can I ever know peace or contentment, because without the focus on things of Christ, nothing in this world will ever be enough to satisfy me. And that is my responsibility. My husband can't do it for me, and my sister-wives cannot do it for me. We must all learn to rest content at the Master's feet no matter what else might happen in our lives.