Keith Wishum: Unplugging from self

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2016

I was expecting trouble at the office today, so I brought my trouble light. I was right; I am having trouble. My light won’t work. Things seem so dark and gloomy. How can I be happy in this situation?
Fortunately, a friend offered a helpful suggestion. He advised that, if I unplugged the light from the socket built into the light and plugged it into a wall outlet, my light might burn better.
You know what? He was right. My light does shine brighter when it’s plugged into something other than itself. So do I. So do you.
Don’t we spend much of our time plugged into ourselves? We focus on our own problems. We dwell on the multiple matters bothering us. We brood over them. Replay them. And life seems dark and gloomy.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Our creator wants us to be happy. He urges us to plug into others instead of ourselves. He guided his apostle Paul to write, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
Keep in mind that those words are found in a letter in which Paul said he had found the secret of being happy regardless of the situation in which he found himself (4:12). By unplugging from himself, Paul could be happy even when his personal situation left much to be desired. You and I can do the same.
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it,” Jesus taught (Matthew 10:39). To find joy, we must lose our life — unplug from ourselves.
Consider an example of how this principle works. Imagine that you have something worrying you. You are feeling down about it as you turn into your driveway and see your neighbor’s yard on fire. The flames are spreading toward his house. You quickly grab your hose and run to help him fight the fire.
An hour later the fire is extinguished. With tears in his eyes, your grateful neighbor invites you in for glass of tea. Relief floods you both as you talk about the fire.
What happened to your problem for that hour? Does it seem so important now? Would you be happier at that moment?
That’s unplugging from self and plugging in to others. It makes for a much brighter day.

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.