It’s not about me. It’s not about me. It’s not about me.
These four words echo in the minds of every one of my Christian friends. And why wouldn’t they? We live in an “all about me” country, we’re members of an “all about me” nation. It seems natural in a culture such as ours to embrace the sweet and salty taste of individualism.
As believers, we’re called to a “higher standard” in a sense—we’re called to strip ourselves of our old clothes—the clothes of individualism—and put on robes of grace, humility, of Christ. And who was less about Himself than anyone else? Jesus. We call this standard, holiness.
Even in this call, it is a constant struggle to wade in the tension of holiness and the ways of the world. There is so much grace for us in the moments when the waters of the world swallow us, yet it seems so essential to the human condition to drown.
A few weeks ago now, I listened to my sweet friend, Brooke Davis, tell me about her experience with pursuing holiness, and she offered us some grace-filled advice.
Over a cup of coffee, Brooke began to tell me about this idea of pursuing holiness and the honest emotions that come with that pursuit. When thinking about it, holiness sounds and feels like an unachievable standard—a long race with no finish line.
She initially felt this tension on a Spring Break trip last year to the Smoky Mountains with H2O. Pouring her heart out to God on the pages of a moleskin journal, she asked the Lord to reveal to her what it even means and looks like to pursue holiness.
This question was the beginning of the race; it unleashed reality—the reality of living for the Kingdom and living in the world.
Holiness wasn’t what she had anticipated, and Brooke found herself confronted with the ways that she fell short.
It would soon be that her honest desire to pursue holiness and righteousness became a self-serving humility—an attitude shaded by thoughts that echo “I am so humble.”
We’ve all been there right? I mean, I know she’s not alone in this because I’ve been right there. I could go on for years about the way pride manifests his ugly self in our lives—and it always seems to be in the ways we won’t notice right away.
Self-righteousness is a pattern that we can all recognize. It is a major part of why pursuing holiness seems like such an impossible, daunting call to answer. The idea of “earning holiness” or earning God’s love and favor is an ideology so impressed on our generation—even those who have no interest in Christ have a sense that we are all trying to stack up points to get God to like us and make our Earthly lives better.
This is so far from God’s original design.
In my talking with Brooke, she explained that she had a similar revelation as the one above—an aha moment in which she realized, “wow, it’s not about me.”
Brooke explained how this brought her an “understanding that God extends a grace to us that is completely unmerited.” It’s not about taking advantage of God’s grace, it’s about learning that it’s there for us when we mess up and we don’t have to do anything to earn it.
It’s not about us. It’s about Him.
Brooke continued in telling me about how all of this started this stirring within her—she felt unsatisfied by 15-minute quiet times, thinking like, “what am I learning?”
It became apparent that a shift in perspective was necessary. Studying the Word could no longer beg the question, “what does this [scripture] mean for me?” Brooke felt that to truly embrace humility and holiness, the question would need to become, “what does this [scripture] say about God?”
The process of pursing holiness certainly isn’t linear. It’s just not. When I was listening to my friend talk to me about this internal struggle, it was overwhelming to me that holiness doesn’t just “happen.” What in life works like that?
Brooke explained how she often felt like God was saying, “come on, Brooke, when are you gonna get it together?” It’s an impatient conflict that lacks the Lord’s compassion. I wonder how many of us feel like God is saying this to us. I can relate to it.
This mindset is so counter-intuitive though—scripture tells us so!
Isaiah 30:18, “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!”
Brooke referenced the scripture and explained that God’s not waiting for us to get holy—He’s not sitting on the throne tapping His foot in anticipation.
“He doesn’t expect us to be perfect, He ‘expects’ us to be faithful,” she said.
She turned in her Bible to 2 Corinthians 3 and read verses 17-18. It reads:
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
This, Brooke explained, is our permission not to hide behind a false identity—we can renounce self righteousness because, “there is nothing about our transformation that is within our own effort.”
In response to this grace, we too ought to rise in compassion—for others, for ourselves, for the Kingdom.
This is Who God is!!!
Let’s all remember—we are all pursuing holiness. It’s not just Brooke, it’s not just me, it’s not just you. It’s something we’re all called into.
I love this “for when” because it’s less of a “for when” and more of a “for always” if that makes sense.
Brooke left me some great reminders for us all to remember when we feel like this holiness thing is too much—too impossible.
For when you’re pursuing holiness:
- The call to holiness is about God—not us.
I don’t think I can say this enough. It’s like I said all the way up there at the beginning—our entire culture screams for us to be selfish. I don’t want to insinuate that there isn’t a time and a place to go “inward” but even in that process, there is a way for us to look to the Lord for strength. At no point is this holiness thing about us—it’s about being faithful as God is faithful to us. Knowing Jesus leads to this faithfulness.
- Embrace the shift in perspective.
It’s as Brooke said earlier, sometimes we need to stop asking what scripture means about us, and instead asking what it says about God. I want to suggest that maybe in learning what scripture reveals about God’s character, we might, therefore, learn who we are in Christ instead of who we are alone.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Let’s remember that perfection isn’t the goal—it’s faithfulness. It remains, however, that we are indeed human. It is so easy for us to fall into a pattern of self-righteousness because of where we’re at in time. God sees us. He sees us. He doesn’t expect perfection.
Let us remember, however, that not taking ourselves seriously does not imply we shouldn’t take our relationships with God seriously. That’s what this is all about—taking ourselves out of the picture reveals more of God. And that’s what this is all about.
- At the end of the day, it’s not about you (or me) and that’s a good thing.
I practice this a lot—I love saying, “I’m not the savior of the world, and thank God I’m not because I. Am. A. Mess.” The same is true for you, friend. The Lord is here for us to lean into Him, not ourselves.
And finally, we should remember that God is in control. None of this mess is in our own hands or by our own strength. We would be right to expect our own failure—the Lord knows we aren’t perfect (He sent us Jesus, remember!). Perhaps it’s a silly, overused “Christianese” saying. It holds true though. We really aren’t perfect—and I think that gives us permission to let God love us all even more.
More of Jesus, less of us. That, I think, is holiness. We’re set apart, unique, and completely loved.
grace and peace.
about Brooke Davis
Brooke Davis is 23 years old, a graduate of Kent State University, and a campus missionary with Reliant Missions at H2O Church- Kent.
She is fun gal with the quirky ability to wiggle her ears—something that approximately 20% of people can do.
For more information about Brooke, check out h2okent.com