Monday, July 15, 2013

When selfishness stole my joy

It's probably safe to assume that most of us understand on some level that selfishness is wrong. When we see someone conspicuously choose their own comfort or benefit over another, we notice. When a lesson is preached or a comment made regarding putting others first, we nod along with the speaker and perhaps even think about how we changed three diapers, mopped the floor and started the laundry before having our morning coffee that day. I'm not selfish. Right?

Without going into too much detail, our family is struggling a bit financially right now and a lot of conversations have taken place regarding what we should do next. I'm ashamed to admit we've occasionally fallen into the "woe is me" mentality. We are striving to keep our priorities in line as a growing family on one income. We are at a point where big, serious decisions need to be made to ensure we are living a sustainable lifestyle. It hurts us in terms of added stress (although we truly should not be worrying about material things) and it bruises our pride to ask for help, to admit our shortcomings, to know that some people's opinions of us could sour. This pride thing is a problem.

At a lunch with some friends, various ones were sharing news of promotions, weddings, looking for a first house and other exciting life changes. I sat in silence, eating my food, feeling sorry for myself. I wasn't rude or bitter, but instead of rejoicing fully along with my friends, I was selfishly comparing their happy news to my own imperfect life. "If only I could do things over.." I thought to myself. "Maybe I could have avoided so much student loan debt. Maybe we could have waited before buying a house. Maybe we could be in a position like our friends if we had just done this differently or that...." And it gets worse.

I thought to myself "Everyone is able to choose their next move and accept big new changes and all we've done is have babies." All we've done is have babies. I cringe as I recall the thought somehow slipping past the gatekeeper of my conscious mind and out into the open to convict me of my terrible pride and selfishness. I didn't say it out loud, but it doesn't matter because our mouth speaks of that which fills our heart. (Luke 6:45) I might have had enough sense to keep my mouth shut, but those words came from my heart nonetheless. It doesn't matter if it is because our society doesn't value children and homemaking and bringing children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord that this thought materialized. It doesn't matter if I was just stressed and reverted back to my old, worldly way of thinking that having children and taking care of them all day isn't a valid career option.

I selfishly denied the utter blessing of my three beautiful, loving children and allowed my own self pity to drown out the many countless blessings our family has received, day after day after day. And I wasn't the happy, supportive friend that I should have been during lunch while hearing of others' good news. I failed to "rejoice with those who rejoice." Romans 12:15 My own selfishness stole my joy and I repent. I repent, and I pray that others who read this will also pause to consider their lives and count blessings and give thanks and not let selfishness or the pride of life steal the joy from your lives.

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:4-7




6 comments:

  1. Bless your sweet heart for sharing that. I've had close to the same thought, though not quite with those words or feelings. We're living in a double-wide, renting until (if) we can get enough of a down-payment. Our savings are always imperiled by the next dentist or OB visit. We have a very steady, very humdrum, not remotely interesting (to anybody but us) life. And it's all because we're having so many babies. I had that thought, not because it's true, but because the rest of the world tells me so every chance they get. And it would be really easy to look at all the choices that other people have (Disney and big houses and hardwood floors)and feel sorry for myself. But then, if I had those things, I would most certainly have to go into debt to do so. So maybe the difference isn't just in the having of babies. Maybe it's in what we think is worth working for. Having babies is just a side-effect of knowing what treasures are worth storing up. I don't know who your friends are, but maybe you could spend some time with some other people who are doing "nothing" but having babies. Might be good for your perspective.

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    1. These were friends from church, probably our closest friends. Sadly, we are currently the only family with little ones in our congregation, so it is a little tougher to meet like-minded young families. (Probably why I like to talk to people like you! :)
      I think what stings the most is feeling like we can't just flip a switch and start fixing our problems. Once you are ready to buy a house, you just buy it. If you get a promotion, the paychecks get bigger that day. If you get married, bam! you're married. But if you're already married with three children and own a home that you've decided you need to downsize from and pay off debt for a while... Have I mentioned I might have issues with having a lack of control? ;)

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  2. First off, I know that we are suppose to examine ourselves, and that is what you are doing, but don't beat yourself up over it. We've all been there at one point or another. Not that that makes it ok, but you know what I mean. It's good that you recognize it as sin so now, dust yourself off and keep on going. As I know you've done. :) I pray God will give you and your husband wisdom as you seek to make the decisions you spoke of. I'll pray tonight for you. :)

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    1. Thank you and bless you for praying for us! I'm so thankful for the encouragement. Battling discontentment and then guilt can be a vicious cycle. Focusing on thankfulness and being faithful in prayer is key! I dusted myself off today and made some calls, so hopefully some things can move forward!

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  3. I can totally relate to just about every word in this post. I think, if we're honest, we've all been there. Making note of an area of weakness and committing it into His hands is the critical first step! Keep your chin up and your light shining, friend!

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