WHAT YOU LIVE IN DETERMINES WHAT YOU LIVE FOR
I heard that quote as a 12-year-old, sitting in church on a Wednesday night, and it has stuck with me ever since. Let me explain a bit further.
What you live in may be a myriad of things, and it can change from day to day. But here are some examples of categories I’ve lived in:
And the product of dwelling in that state of mind begins to determine what you life for:
Let’s use insecurity as an example to see what this might look like in our day-to-day lives.
When we live in insecurity, we will live for approval.
We are constantly doubting ourselves, convinced that someone is going to find out we are not good enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough … so we spend our days hearing everything everyone else says to us through the lens that marks us as not good enough. We become desperate for that word of affirmation and approval.
Here’s how that plays out in my thought life:
My friend wants to grab lunch, and I suggest my favorite restaurant. My friend orders, but she does not love her meal. Well, since I picked the restaurant, she’ll be upset with me, and I am a terrible friend for not knowing what she likes. In order to reconcile this mess, I’ve got to try harder to make sure she knows I’m a good friend.
My husband gets up early to go to the gym, and he cannot find his gym shorts or the hat he usually wears. Since it’s my primary responsibility to do the laundry and take care of the household chores, I’m an awful wife for not making sure those things were out and ready. I better wash every single item of clothing today and make sure he knows I am thinking about him so he doesn’t think I’m a terrible wife.
I create a design for my boss and I’m convinced it’s just what he wants. I show him the design, and rather than applaud my creativity, he asks to change not one but three things. I may as well just go home and quit designing, because clearly I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m a failure. I have to find some way to show him I’m talented and worthy of trusting.
These scenarios could go on and on for days. When you read them, you probably see that they are not valid and that there are so many other factors at play. Your husband’s dirty gym shorts do not mean you’re a bad wife—they probably mean you had a busy day and didn’t know that all his shorts were dirty. Your friend not liking her lunch is not an indication of your friendship—after all, you didn’t cook the food or make her order that particular meal. And your boss having a different preference or idea for that particular design doesn’t negate your ability, it simply means you are different people with different ideas, and compromise is healthy!
But by living in that state of insecurity, we become desperately hungry for acceptance and affirmation. We live in the fear of not being needed or approved of, so we seek comfort and affirmation from others that we are enough.
THE NEVER-ENDING OPTIONS
Maybe insecurity isn’t a big struggle for you, but you live in constant worry about your finances and your future. So you begin to seek the control of managing every last dime you earn and creating your perfectly structured five-, ten-, and fifteen-year plans.
Or maybe you live with the constant desire for a husband, desperately wanting to be in a relationship where you are known and loved and cherished. So you live in the never-ending search for contentment through relationship after relationship, firmly believing that this boy will be the one to bring you joy and satisfaction.
You can fill in the blank with what you’re living in, but the process will always be the same: When you live in one area of need, you will live for the antidote—whatever brings answers or happiness.
The problem with this pattern is that all of these things are fallible, insufficient, and futile. They fall short. If you do happen to get what you’re seeking today, who’s to say it won’t be gone tomorrow?
If you find a relationship that makes you feel confident and cherished, what would happen if you break up or get in a fight tomorrow?
If you find the perfect job that makes you all the money in the world, what would happen if the company crashed and you were back at square one without a job?
If you finally get pregnant and see all your dreams of becoming a mother unfolding before your eyes, what happens if you have a painful miscarriage and begin facing the impending future of infertility?
ALREADY, BUT NOT YET
We live in the “already, but not yet.” We have this hope in Jesus as believers, but we live in a broken world where things are not yet fixed—not perfected or whole. We’re in this balancing act of hoping in salvation, but living in brokenness. And this is why the only solution to our problem is to live in Christ.
Because He is the one thing that is both the pursuit and the solution. When we live in Christ, we have all we need. When we live in the grace of our Heavenly Father, we want for nothing. We are no longer caught up in the things of the world that tie us down—instead, we are free to offer love and grace and kindness to those around us, because we’ve been given joy and contentment and peace through relationship with Him.
But what does this even mean, practically speaking? How do you really “live in Christ”?
THE INVITATION TO FLOURISH
Paul writes in Philippians 1:21 that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” This means he recognized that this life is fleeting, temporary, and never going to satisfy. He affirmed this idea in Colossians 3 when he wrote that we are to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is.… For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (v. 1,3).
He’s telling us to get rid of the stuff that binds us down here on earth. That insecurity you’ve carried your whole life? Cast it off. The control you crave? Put it to death. Because you’re a new creation in Christ, holy and beloved, and you have the peace and Spirit of God dwelling within your heart (Col. 3:5–17).
Paul’s giving us an invitation that originated with Christ himself when He told us in John 10:10 that He came that we “may have life and have it abundantly.”
When we live in Christ, we experience abundance (John 10:10).
When we live in relationship with God, we experience freedom unlike anything we’ve ever known (Gal. 5:1).
We’ve been invited to live in the unending, abundant, free life of Christ that never dries up and constantly satisfies. In the day-to-day, this looks like refocusing our heart on the Lord first, taking our thoughts captive throughout the day, and coming back to the Lord when our minds and hearts begin to wander.
I want to invite you to join me—to live in Christ, to experience the grace and goodness of a Heavenly Father who made you, knows you, and wants relationship with you. I promise it’s better than anything else you’ve been living in this side of heaven. If you’re tired of seeking new solutions to your problems day after day, come to the Lord instead. Come experience His love and never look back! Walk in the Lord, and find everything you need.