“What is the hardest thing you have ever done?”
That was a question posed to me during a job interview, back when I was single and ignorant about how hard life really can be!
“The hardest task I have ever accomplished…hiking the West Coast Trail. Nearly a week in the wild, packing everything on your back (or the back of your friends!), trudging on through all kinds of weather and pushing through to the end despite pain and exhaustion.”
I sometimes long for the days when my greatest worry was making it to the end of a 75 km trail. Now my life is consumed with paying bills, cleaning house, raising kids, and maintaining my marriage to my true love in the midst of it all. This life I have landed in is full of both stress and blessing.
I pine for the days when life was just about me!
Then I stop and thinking about my relationship with my creator and his son; of how he has called us to love and serve in a way that takes us completely out of our comfort zone. Suddenly I am left with this realization: the life I am pining for is a life of sin!
We were not created to be focused on our own pleasure and gain.
The struggles of marriage and parenting have brought me to such a deeper relationship with my BFF, Jesus. Having to always consider someone else in every decision I make has caused me to realize how selfish I have been, and to be honest how selfish I still so often am.
Many of the disagreements that arise between me and my children are the result of me demanding my way while they are demanding theirs. I have been reading in the Old Testament of the Israelites journey through the wilderness. Every whine and complaint they had was rooted in their selfishness and a desire to please themselves; to satisfy their cravings and their desires, most often at the expense of the greater good.
God did not design our earthly relationships to bring us happiness, he designed them to bring us into a deeper understanding of him and his love. The love God has for us is so selfless that he sent his son to die a scornful death in our place.
These earthly relationships of marriage and parenting (and even intimate friendship) put us in a place where we must consider our own wants and needs last.
When we can learn to do that, we will experience an intimacy with our Savior that we never knew was possible this side of heaven.
I have to admit I am not there yet, not even close. Daily I demand and beg for my own way, the sin of selfishness consuming my life. The result is that I live a life steeped in misery, missing out on the blessings God wants to pour forth into my life when I live as a servant instead of a queen.
I wish I could tell you how to get there from here, that there was some formula that would cleanse this sin of selfishness that took root way back in the Garden of Eden. But alas, there is not.
Yet there is prayer and we must never underestimate its power to change and transform our lives. God will cleanse us from all unrighteousness when we diligently seek him and his will.
So let us strive to live not for ourselves but for those God has placed in our lives: our spouse & children, neighbors, friends, and co-workers. It is through the sacrifice of truly living in these relationship that we realize how unimportant our own wants are and how God has called us to live a life of humble servanthood.
And we may just find that in living this selfless life we find our own happiness multiplied beyond measure, because we are living in the way we were designed and created to live.