I’m embarrassed to say that at times I can be a bit of a whiner. One day, in my not too distant past, I was wallowing in self-pity. “I feel so used! God, why do you keep putting me in situations where people are using me?” It was a pretty pathetic display, but thankfully, I was the only one invited to the pity party. As I sat at my kitchen table, tissue in hand to sop up the free flowing tears, I remembered a sermon my pastor preached a few years back and I had to laugh at my stupidity.
It was during a winter season of my life, you know the times when God is silent. Well, there I sat, arms crossed, feeling dejected, not expecting to hear from God. My ear perked up when I heard the pastor describe me in perfect detail. “Many of you, from an early age, have prayed ‘God use me, no matter the cost, I simply want to be used by you.’ You cried, your mascara ran, and you meant it, and God heard you. Now you same people sit here, years later. You’re whining, ‘I feel so used. . . Why is everyone always using me?’ People aren’t using you! God has simply answered your prayer. You are being used!”
Ouch, the truth hurts. My pastor went on to question me, “Do you now have a right to say, ‘This is too painful. You know I really don’t want to be used after all. What I meant to say was, please use me only if it’s fun, or if it’s rewarding or if it offers some recognition.’ No, you prayed the prayer and God has answered.”
I went home with a different perspective.
Now obviously I don’t believe in being a door-mat. I’m a big advocate of personal boundaries, self-care and all that other stuff we social workers teach. But unlike a lot of my counseling peers, I don’t think I should put me first. In fact, I’m pretty sure Jesus teaches us to put ourselves last. Dead last. A big fat zero.
I’m learning to extend my prayer a little. It’s no longer a simple “God use me.” Instead, I pray, “God use me to show others your grace and compassion. Give me a pure heart that desires, above all else, to be a servant as you were. Crush all selfishness. Use me . . . use me up until there is nothing left but your love shining through me.”
So the next time I say, "I feel so used," it won't be a complaint but an answer to prayer.