Selfishness knocks often-- In marriage, parenting and life in general. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could flip a switch to become the patient version of ourselves we dream about during our fits of frustration? I know I’ve been there before.
Not long ago, my husband and I were discussing potential changes to his schedule. While I wanted to be supportive, I knew that my world would turn upside down just a little. I found myself groaning and complaining to him. “As a mom, I don’t ever get to determine my schedule. My schedule revolves around everyone else. There’s nothing I can do about it. So I guess I might as well get used to it.” I tried to be as sweet as possible, in a slightly passive-aggressive way. Part of what I said was true. Most often, moms face the fact sooner or later that their lives are forever changed when they give birth to humans. We are never the same. We juggle meals, naptime, school schedules, lessons, practices, family dynamics, laundry and cleaning better than the highest paid personal assistant. We are tuned in to the different sounds of a cry, the eye-roll of a teen-ager and the needs of our husbands. It’s not easy, but somebody has to do it!
All joking aside, both moms and dads are asked to give up a lot when they create life and give it space to become something great.
I read a quote recently that brought an abrupt end to my petty complaints in the moment.
C. S Lewis wrote, “The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life.”
The very things I have often allowed to circumvent my happiness are the things that bring me joy and purpose! What an important wake up call for those of us who gravitate to grumbling when we should be expressing gratitude.
I know we’re human, so we make mistakes--I get it. I refuse to be hard on anyone who is doing their best to live a life of meaning. So many of us are doing what we can with the tools we have at the moment. However, I’d like to propose that perhaps it’s time to step it up in the thankfulness department. I’d like us to consider that putting others above our desires is not a reason to whine, but a chance to thrive. It gives us renewed perspective so that we might see a world beyond the one with us in the center. A world where we “outdo one another in showing honor.” Where we bless those who persecute us and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:10,14,15)
I have a pre-teen, so I have moments in which I think I’m being persecuted. I’m really not, but when the angst of growing pains takes over a peaceful morning, I roll my eyes more than my adolescent does. Then I gently remind myself that I’m the adult here and it’s time to “Mom-up” for the situation and do what I’ve been created to do. Parenting is a great study in humility, because just when you think you are starting to figure out one stage, another one hits you like a force of nature. We pretty much never know what we are doing.
Even in the trenches of teen drama, there is a silver lining. Whatever the stage--In the middle of diapers and doctor visits, car lines and acne treatments, there are blessings to count. Parents, take heart. I know that there are days in which you feel selfish for partaking in self care. Don’t you do it. There are ways to create space for your own needs, without becoming a selfish monster. It’s a delicate balance, but it generally revolves around motive.
I know it’s not our favorite thing to do, but we must surrender our desire to be at the top of the food chain. Sometimes we need a reminder like the one in Philippians 2:3 to shake us out of our predictable behavior: “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” I don’t know about you, but I battle a daily desire to be number one. I wish I got it right every single time, but I don’t. I have to repent--confess--ask God to reframe my thinking so it looks more like His. He is the ultimate authority in sacrificial living (and dying).
His purpose was paramount in everything He did. His theology of others first was revealed in His thoughtful service to others.
I’m challenged to continue to surrender my selfishness to the One who can transform my human tendencies into miraculous milestones for His glory. And as I give Him my tendency to take the number one spot, He gives me a heart of gratefulness for the blessings I had all along, but was too self-centered to notice.
PC: Matt Hoffman on Unsplash