Lately I have felt drained. I looked at my husband the other night and said, "I wouldn't want your job." He gave me the strangest look and asked me what I meant. I tried to explain to him that the deeper I get into my faith and the more I come to understand Jesus' sacrifice for us, the more I hurt for others that do not know what I know... those that do not have what I have. And then I feel like I am standing on some big know-it-all podium and looking down on everyone else. And I hate that. It's a strange place to be considering that I call myself the world's least likely pastor's wife. Most people assume that a pastor and his wife have led some squeaky clean existence, but that is not the case for me and it sometimes just makes me feel less than adequate to tell others about my faith. But that was the old me... and the new me- the reborn me if you will (even though I know that phrase freaks a lot of people out)- knows that it is my responsibility to do so, even if I feel less than adequate. In fact, being uncomfortable is what we as Christians should be doing... and lucky for us, we don't have to do it anymore in fear of being killed or sent to prison like the early Christians did- and many around the world still do. And yet, I still find it difficult.
So like I said, lately I have felt drained. And then today, clear as a bell, God demonstrated something to me that put it all into perspective. This morning Jake woke up sounding really croupy. I was so worried as I listened to his labored breathing and could hardly stand to put him down for a nap in fear that laying him down would make it worse. Of course jumping on Google and thinking he had everything from pneumonia to whooping cough didn't help, but after a trip to the doctor we learned that it is just an upper respiratory infection. So even though our little guy sounds bad, he is going to be just fine. What I did not anticipate, however, was how clingy and fussy he would be. All day today he just needed his mommy. And instead of being the soothing, loving mommy that he needed, I spent most of the day frustrated that I had a million things to get done and he was getting in the way of that. And tonight, now that he's in bed, I just feel awful about how selfish that attitude was. After a little bit of reflection, I realize that today I was trying to live for me rather than living for him. And that's when it hit me... almost every day of my life I try to live for me rather than living for Him. Living for God. Today He gave me an experience that blatantly pointed it out to me and I opened myself up to it. And I certainly needed it.
So tonight I am reflecting on the idea of dying to oneself. The Bible speaks of this in so many places and even says that we must "lose our life" in order to find it, and I needed to be reminded of that. So what is dying to self you might wonder? What does it mean to lose your life? Well it's simple: you put God first and your own selfish needs last... just like I should have done with Jacob today. You see, by being a mom I do this everyday. Instead of pedicures and new clothes, I now hesitate before even buying shampoo for myself and splurge on new pajamas or something of the like for him. Instead of going out at the last minute for a night out with my girlfriends, I realize that I have to stay home and care for my son who solely depends on his dad and myself for everything. My priorities have shifted, and in return my son is the most rewarding thing that I have in this world. Now imagine if I did that all of the time for God. Instead of watching that mindless TV show, what if I spent some time in His word? Instead of logging onto Facebook, what if I spent some real time in prayer? Those selfish "needs" that I have need to die, and I need to focus on what is truly important. As I look back over the past year, I see the fruit that has come from the periods of time when I truly did put Him first, so I already know the rewards are bigger than I can imagine. Over the past year we've given away over 20% of our income... to tithing, charities, families in need, or wherever our heart leads us, and God has provided for us in the most amazing, unexpected ways. And in the times that I have really spent time in my Bible and used my free time sparingly to do things for the betterment of His kingdom, I have seen blessings in my life ten fold. Being a mother is a blessing and the rewards are huge, but the rewards don't even compare to being an obedient child of God. And at the end of this life, our reward will be in heaven, and that is truly something to be excited about.
The odd thing is that it wasn't until I started living my life for someone else- for God- that I truly found out what life is all about for me. And for awhile I felt like maybe I shouldn't share these things with anyone. I mean, who am I to teach about Jesus? I am just a gal who has regrets from her past who happened to marry a pastor. And while that might be true, I am a gal whose regrets are gone because I am new in Christ... I live for Him and my old self is gone. What a wonderful place to find myself! And sometimes I worry that some of the people I know will think that I have gone off the deep end... that I'm "too" Christian now... but today I realized that I'm okay with that. If I am going to be passionately campaigning for something then it might as well be this. I mean, who can argue with a faith that teaches that love is the most important thing in the world; that life should be lived with integrity, humility, honesty, and honor; that we should give away what we have in order to help others; that we should serve one another and put others before ourselves... the list goes on and on. If I'm going to side with something, then I am happy to be viewed as someone who has gone off the deep end for this. I am dying to myself... I am losing my life more and more so that I can find something richer, greater, and deeper. And the more I lose it, the more in awe I am of His majesty.
I encourage you to figure out how you can die to yourself today... what can you give up that is getting in the way of your relationship with Him? Use that time and energy to devote to the Father and see what blessings pour out in return. I promise that you won't be disappointed.
Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. ~Matthew 10:38-39
PS - I really do hope this makes sense... it's been a long day and like I said, I am drained. I look forward to reading it tomorrow in the hopes that it's at least coherent!