A Must-Read for Millennials: Free of Me by Sharon H. Miller

I recently posted on Instagram explaining one of the many reason I hesitated to start a lifestyle blog - I knew I would be inclined to make it all about me. And I know that this tendency is not unique to me….it’s cultural right? (I know I say this all the time but, am I lying?). We live in a self-focused society, that encourages us to dig deeper into ourselves, to go further inward to find who we really are and what we're put on this earth to do. I tried that for a long time, and as I dug deeper inside of myself, as I battled to truly find my inner fire, the fulfillment was always short lived and the contentment was conditional. When I redirected my focus, away from self and onto to Christ, that is when I began to feel full...purposeful. In Sharon Hoode Miller’s book Free of Me, she takes you through this kind of transformation - through the beauty and necessity of making life less about you and more about Christ.

At the heart of Miller's message, I found this truth for myself: insecurities, judgement, comparison self-doubt are signs of spiritual sickness, and not in the ways that many of us see them. When suffering from these strongholds, we often seek self-help messages affirminging that we are brave, that we are enough, that we are strong, that we are beautiful. And that God says these things about us. There is some truth in this messaging. But this is not how God affirms us, His goal is not to make us feel better about ourselves. His goal is to make us righteous and we can only do that by altering our self-centeredness, our self-focus. It’s not about us, its not about what we can do, it is about what God can do through us when we stop looking inward and start looking upward. When God affirms us, it is never based on who we are alone, it is based on who He is, and what His love and sovereignty can do through us.

I love this quote from Miller:

Insecurities feed us lies about ourselves and our worth, but they also reveal truths about our idols, our misplaced focus, or our misplaced priorities. Insecurity is a sign of spiritual sickness, and until we can admit that and confess it we will never address the source of the pain. Nice words about our belonging only hide it for a while.

I know for myself, I’ve always been one to try to pray away my insecurities, my inclination for comparison and self-doubt, but the truth is that God knew I had too much to learn from these strongholds to just make them disappear. They are there for a reason, to reveal things in me, in all of us, that we would never otherwise unpack and address.

Throughout the book Miller goes chapter by chapter, explaining how we often unintentionally make different aspects of our lives about us. How we turn everything inward. And then she gives Godly direction on how to refocus our lives by staring more intently and intentionally at Christ. While hitting these points, she also reminds us that true humility and self-forgetfulness is not self-neglect. Self-care is important, but there is a difference between self-care and self-focus. In the words of Rick Warren, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.”

I’m recommending this book to people left and right. Men, women, teenagers, young 20-somethings trying to figure life and themselves out. This read is a gem. A ripple in the pond after you have been staring at your reflection for far too long.

 

Brittany Barnes