Have you ever felt restless and listless?
Some time ago, I was entirely awash with ennui – that is, this intense feeling of dissatisfaction and boredom with life. And in my very lacking and limited expertise, I misdiagnosed myself as having a quarter-life crisis.
But I’ll cut the long story short and tell you I eventually snapped out of it. Today I’m no longer choosing to be caught up in the confines of such a mindset.
After all, when I think about it … My life is actually pretty great. I realised I was never going through a “crisis”. The real issue was that at 23 years old, I still hadn’t understood how to lead a truly meaningful life.
I figured the future lay between three options: What’s right in God’s eyes, what’s right in the world’s eyes and what’s right to me.
But though I tried, there wasn’t a way to nicely interweave God’s and the world’s definition of fulfilment. Honestly, I wanted to get the best of both.
And so I wound up privately believing that God wasn’t interested in me living a fulfilling life – at least not how I’d kinda defined it in my mind. As opposed to free-spirited, adventurous and unpredictable, I always thought the Christian life would be inevitably subdued, safe and boring.
In allowing my natural inclinations to run my life, I lost sight of how fleeting and unimportant the approval of man is in the grand scheme of things.
And over the years, I let this misconstrued notion take root in my life. It was a fear which steered me from walking in the God-given purpose lovingly crafted for me.
The beauty of this human life is that in all of God’s sovereignty, it’s up to me to make my own decisions in this journey of discovering who I’ve been made to be. And to do that, it has to start by realising it’s really not about me. My desires and decisions reflect who I live for – and who I live for guides my discovery of my true identity.
But the problem was, all this while, I was living for me.
THE DANGER OF SELF-GLORIFICATION
Self-glorification is a vicious cycle. It is an insatiable parasite, and if left unfed, one that eats at your soul. In ravenous hunger it devours your self-esteem, self-worth and your sense of self.
I was tempted to turn my life into a spectacle. The desire to glorify one’s self translates into a life aimed at proving it is interesting – worthy to be envied.
I didn’t think my own life was enviable or interesting, which made it easier for me to haphazardly consider it as a quarter-life crisis. I just didn’t think my life was exciting enough – and that made me restless.
I hadn’t realised the extent to which my decisions revolved around self-glorification. I mean, who doesn’t want to appear interesting, worthy of admiration and unique? But in allowing this inclination to run my life, I lost sight of how fleeting and unimportant the approval of man is in the grand scheme of things.
GOOD FRIENDS WON’T ALWAYS GIVE GOOD ADVICE
“Run from temptations that capture young people. Always do the right thing. Be faithful, loving, and easy to get along with. Worship with people whose hearts are pure. Stay away from stupid and senseless arguments. These only lead to trouble, and God’s servants must not be troublemakers. They must be kind to everyone, and they must be good teachers and very patient.”(2 Timothy 2:22-24)
I learnt that even trusted friends will not always give good advice. As we mature, we must learn how to discern true wisdom from worldly logic.
However pure and genuine your friends’ intentions are, they may end up giving you advice that’s more harmful than good. And they’re usually very persuasive, especially since they know you so well. The onus is on you to think critically about what is at stake for yourself, and what lines you’re willing and unwilling to cross.
Remember that your moral compass is ultimately based on the Word of God. Be firm and walk away from temptation, and be especially vigilant when seemingly innocent advice threatens to blur the lines between right and wrong.
LIVE FOR GOD IN GRATITUDE
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
I learnt that anxiety and frustration in life are defeated by gratitude. We must make it a point to be thankful for what we have instead of mulling over what we don’t, to take stock of the experiences we’ve had and thank God for the growth we’ve seen.
My quarter-life crisis had its roots in a lack of gratitude and contentment. And it wasn’t a holy dissatisfaction. But I’m relearning what it means when He said that He has given me a purpose (Jeremiah 29:11) and everything will happen in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Anxiety and frustration in life are defeated by gratitude. We must make it a point to be thankful for what we have instead of mulling over what we don’t.
So instead of longing to travel the world and pursuing a dream career, I’ve been thinking to myself: What would help me overcome this hunger for glory and approval? What would make me more helpful and loving to the people around me? What would allow me to have a bigger impact on the Kingdom of God?
And here are my answers so far: A good character and a good heart (1 Samuel 16:7). A pursuit of Christlikeness as I obediently walk out the path God paves for me. The laying down of my pride — the opposite of all the things God wants me to cultivate and the stumbling block to surrendering my whole life back to Him.
As I live out each day in my quarter-life, I’m choosing to trust God instead of worrying over how I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I’m reminded that as long as I abide in Him – live for Him – He will be faithful to produce good fruits in me and through me (John 15:7). There is no real crisis in the arms of Christ.