Lately I’ve bottled myself up. I can’t voice my feelings properly and it seems as though no one understands. I’ve grown distant from my friends, and I haven’t opened up to anyone lately. I know they are trying to help, but I don’t want it. I’m so frustrated with God and those around me. Missions is coming up, and I’ve prayed for a softened heart; however, I feel unworthy to serve. I’ve constantly been struggling with doubt, bitterness, and regret. Am I in the position to serve?
You don’t have to be in a perfect, holy state of mind to serve God. If that was the case, there would be no service going on ever.
My full time job is serving people in ministry, and there are plenty of days where I have a funky attitude starting out. But I know God is calling me to serve, so I stow that funky attitude and, out of obedience and love for God, I serve people. Not because I’m super holy (I’m not), not even because I’m a good person (I’m not), but because serving is the way out of that crappy mindset.
It would be great if God softened your heart beforehand, and then you went out to people in that headspace, and it happens that way sometimes. On the other hand, God sometimes uses the act of service to soften our hearts. The same with doubts, the process of getting over it often involves service.
One of the reasons service works to break those things down is because it gets you outside of your own head. When you go into a spiral of isolation, it can easily become self perpetuating. You feel bad because you are isolating yourself, so you don’t feel worthy of human contact, and so it gets worse.
I’m going to throw some science at you here, I promise it will be brief. There is a chemical in your brain called Dopamine. It helps control your brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Addicts often have low levels of dopamine, and part of the reason they use substances is to spike it.
I tell you that to tell you this: there has been research that cooperating with other people towards a common goal raises your Dopamine level significantly. God designed your brain so that service will make you feel better.
So you have two options here. One is to push through and do something that will help other people, help you reestablish those connections with your friends, and make you feel better. The other is to do none of those and stay feeling alone and discouraged. Which of those sounds like God speaking and which sounds like the devil?
-Matt from The Bridge