I answer e-mails for a living. I am blessed to be a part of a wonderful ministry outreach that ministers to thousands of hurting people on a daily basis.
At the end of the day, many times I go home with a certain sense of satisfaction knowing that perhaps in some small way, I was able to encourage someone by bringing them a renewed hope in their life circumstances.
One particular morning, I received a rather long and detailed e-mail from a woman who was in a deep state of depression. She went into great length to explain how very disappointed she was with her life, and proceeded to describe in great detail every wrong that had ever befallen her. She was very disappointed with all of her family, friends and especially her church Pastor. She made no apologies that she was totally disgusted with people and described how disillusioned she had become with life overall.
After I finished reading through her correspondence a second time, I quietly asked God to give me the right words to say to her that could somehow reach her. I felt like I heard Him say, “Begin to move back from the letter and then look at it again.” So I did just that.
Almost instantly all the words began to slightly fade, and I began to focus in on one very small word that had dominated the entire e-mail message. That word was “I.” Just about every sentence she wrote contained the word “I.” Then I heard God say:“That’s her problem.”
I knew from my own experience exactly what He meant. I had my own bout with depression, some twenty years before. It wasn’t until I heard a well known Christian Physiologist, who gave the reasons for many types of depression that I began to understand.
He said, the reason most people become depressed is that all their attention is on themselves. They are focused inward! Everything points back to “me.” “Me this, me that, look what this person did to me or look what life has done to me.” On and on it goes.
All of a sudden it was like a light bulb went off. I thought, as much as I hate to admit it … he’s right! From that moment on, I began to step out of myself and my world quickly began to turn around. This is not to dismiss or be insensitive to those severe cases of depression where a possible chemical imbalance is involved. That’s a different story entirely.
I drove home that afternoon on my usual forty mile commute, and as always, the traffic began to slow down right before the downtown tunnel entrance. I gradually approached a car that had one of those license plates that spelled out a message. As I looked closely, I couldn’t help but to smile the moment I realized what it said.
The plate spelled out, “2MANYIZ” (Too many “I’s”). I knew in that instance God was confirming to me, that when the “I’s” and the “Me’s” dominate our lives, we very often end up self-focused and self-absorbed to the point that we are no longer capable of giving out of ourselves.
We can all learn a powerful lesson from the Apostle Paul as he himself struggled with the problem of the almighty “I.” In the book of Galatians, he very poignantly penned the following words:
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, KJV)