In a world like we have today where we are constantly being bombarded with disgusting lies that it is okay to be self-absorbed, and being brainwashed by propaganda that we have to "look out for number one" it is easy to fall prey to this mindset that so long as I am happy (read: getting what I want) I will be more fit to make you happy.
That, my friends, is a load of bunk.
See, I really like this lie. If you don't take care of yourself you won't have the energy to take care of others. And to a point that is absolutely true. If I don't eat well and sleep well I will be a sick and useless woman unfit to care for my family. However, that does not give me the freedom to eat whatever, whenever, and sleep in to 8:30am under the guise that "I need my sleep". Yeah? Really? then go to bed at 8:00pm and get the extra hours earlier as opposed to later. (thank goodness for babies who wake up at 7:00 to be fed. A built in alarm clock! and for a husband who consistently rise early and motivate me to do the same.)
It feels good to have "experts" giving me fuel for my lazy gluttonness. "No, no honey. Mommy can't get play with you right now. I'm just taking care of myself so I have the energy to take care of you later,....which apparently does not include putting down my book to actually play with you. Sorry. You can wait".
Let me back up a bit: yesterday in church while we were leading worship, Tim says "Pray and ask the Lord to show you what it is that is blocking your view of Him. What is He asking you to do or to lay down so that you can see Him and serve Him better" (okay maybe that was a paraphrase not a direct quote: point is the same.)
So what do I hear? As (nearly) always "Barbara, you need to die to self. You need to get out of the way. You need to DO SOMETHING. Forget about Walk Across the Room. How about Get Off the Computer. Your kids, your husband, your friends, need you to look out for them and their needs. Your needs can wait."
Fantastic. *love* that.
I don't know about you, but this sounds like hard work. For me the actual work of it is not the hard part. The hard part is shutting up the voices in my head that are so choked up with the fear of man that serving man (rightly) becomes complicated. I've said before that I am the kind of perfectionist that gets paralyzed with the overwhelming impossibility of perfection so I don't even start. This is true with friendships, bible reading, mentoring my kids, ... I don't want it to go badly. I want to really excel. I see the necessity for excellence. But. but but but but but.
What if i disappoint you? What if you laugh at me? What if I fall hopelessly, obviously on my face? What if I paint a dreadful picture of the Love of Christ?
Maybe I'll just go back to bed. I'm a GREAT sleeper. That is something I can excel at.
But as I continue to mull this over and agree with the need to die to self all day, my husband calls me down to the computer last night and says "Hey, you should watch this with me".
Dear, sweet man.
He had no idea what I was working through. I had told him nothing of this reminder to get my head out of what is easy or comfortable and to actually DO SOMETHING for others instead of wishing I was that kind of a person.
We sat down together and watched this Piper sermon on Phil. 2:4 entitled "The Mind of Christ: Looking to the Interests of Others". Please watch it if you can find the time. It is brilliant.
My journal this morning is filled with these kinds of prayers:
Lord help me to serve my children with a joyful, willing spirit.
Lord let me NEVER make my children feel like they are an unpleasant duty I must "do".
Help them and me to see that while I do need to ensure that I am healthy and well enough to serve them (and they others) that that is not licence to be self-centered, appetite-driven, lazy people.
Help me to drop what I am doing (when it is inconsequential) joyfully to help them instead of eye-rolling, sighing, begrudgingly "well, Mommy is really busy right now, but I *guess* I can help you".
OH LORD!!! HOW DISGRACEFUL!!!
In our home we say that obedience is "All the way, right away, the first time, with a happy heart." Somehow I've stopped making that apply to myself.
I'll do it later. Just give me 10 (read 45) minutes. Do you really need that now? Can't you do it yourself? Ask your sister to read that to you. Can't you see I'm busy? Well, fine, yes I can play lego (insert "huff" and a book being dropped loudly on the table).
What is wrong with me?!
Oh yes, I remember. I'm a sinful, self-consumed, appetite-driven woman. Lazy. Wanting the benefits of excellence without the hard work of getting there.
Don't get me wrong: there are days that our home gets this beautifully. And OH HOW I LOVE IT!!! We all are so much happier, holier, nicer, more grateful, more useful, more spontaneously helpful.
Why can't I stay in that place?
Lord I pray for an increased desire to be the kind of person who sets aside my interests for the sake of others. Give me that heart that serves willingly, gratefully, above what was expected. Make me willing to die everyday for those in my care, and those you will bring through my doors and into my life. I hate that some of the godless people I know are more of a servant than I, who has the spirit of the Servant King within.
This is hard. I am scared to give up "my rights", "my entitlements". I don't want to feel deprived. Keep my focus on the end goal: to be like you and to show you to the world, and to enjoy the fruits of my labours in eternity. Give me the faith to say that I am willing to be poured out like a drink offering. I cannot do this. Only You can do this in and through me. Please let it be so.