that I am selfish.
Incredibly selfish. Ashamedly selfish.
This isn’t a new revelation. Rather, it is something I have struggled against for years.
God has a way of bringing things to the surface. Things that need to be changed, things that need to be let go….things that have no place…..
For me, one of those things is selfishness.
Now….I have come a long way. But for me, God has said, ” Let no bit of selfishness remain.” In that case, I have a LONG way to go.
And truthfully, where does selfishness have a place in the Kingdom of God? Well, it has no place at all!
Right now, my bouts of selfishness are smaller and fewer in between….
Yesterday, my husband called from work to let me know he was tasked to go away for training for November and December. Thankfully, he would be home in time for Christmas, hopefully coming back a week beforehand. My immediate reaction was a sane, positive, practical reaction. ” At least you will be home for Christmas. What can we do? Nothing….we might as well accept it and make the best of everything. At least your not deploying.”
But today, after I dropped Isabela at preschool, I began to feel myself becoming excited about the impending holiday season. I LOVE fall, the holiday season, the traditions, the “hustle and bustle”, the holiday music, the holiday cooking and baking, and the closeness of family during this time. I love it SO much! But it wasn’t always this way.
As a child and teenager, Christmas and the holidays were the worst part of the year for me. In my life at home, I cannot remember a time where I felt more lonely and isolated. When I first joined the military, I did not struggle like others did during the holidays. I was glad to be away from the loneliness of home, that always waited for us during this season.
And then, I got married.
Aurelia, my youngest sister, says, that our marriage changed everything. Gone were the lonely, pretend-happy, isolated days, as Chris and I opened up our home to my family during this time of year. A new tradition started…..and it was filled with so much JOY. It was during these times that I got to really know my dad, see how much FUN my family is, and see how SILLY we are when we are all together.
Last year, Chris was deployed during this time. So, I was really looking forward to this year. Our 2nd year in a new house, but our first year making memories and starting traditions as a family. You see, next year, Chris’s time frame to deploy is also during this season. So, everything within me wanted to make this year count.
And, not only that, Isabela is three this year, so she really understands things. My heart was so excited….
And so today, when I thought about fall, I began to get excited….
Until I remembered we would be without Chris again. And then I remembered that my dad and stepmom will be traveling to the Philippine Islands during most of that time. And my older sister, who stayed with us last holiday season, is living back in California now. And, it hit me that I would really be alone this year, without the comfort of my family.
I confess, I got scared. Scared that this season, I would feel like I did as a child during this time of year. Scared of feeling lonely and isolated again. And then…..
Yes…I cried. Selfishly wanting everything to go my way. Selfishly not appreciating the fact the my husband WILL be home for Christmas this year. Selfish…I am.
And then I heard God whisper…..Now, remember, there are others who will be like you. Alone, without family, and disheartened. Remember? You have been there before. Go to them”
And maybe that should have immediately made me feel better. But instead, I felt worse, like an undercurrent of pain and embarrassment had found me and rendered me helpless….and as a new rush of tears came, I could only say, “yes, God.”
God then directed my thoughts to some people in my life. People like my older sister, Angela, who is living so far away, without any family nearby. Who is struggling with her disease, so far away…
And I felt so ashamed.
How much do I even call my dear sister? How much do I email her or mail her little packages? How much do I go out of my way to bring LOVE to my own sister?
If I was her, I would be mad at me….sad and frustrated at my “business.”
And then, I thought of my sister-in-law, whose husband is gone every 30 days for work. And how hard it must be. In the same way, how much have I reached out to let her know that I care? I know exactly how it is to be a temporary single parent, yet, what have I done to help ease the loneliness that rushes in like huge rolling waves, during those single parent phases?
And then I thought of my own mother. Surely, our relationship is not typical, and tempered with the past years of heartache and maybe even guilt. Yet, I love her so…But how much do I let her know how much I love her? Never enough.
And there are others….
Thinking of all this, I say to myself, I am failing! I am losing the battle!
I hate selfishness, my selfishness. I hate how it manifests in me and how hard I have to fight to allow selflessness to win. You see, God has showed me that selfishness never cultivates ANYTHING. Nothing positive EVER grows out of selfishness. I don’t want to be the result of selfishness….I want to be the result of Love. And love, is NEVER selfish.
You see, selfishness lies in the small things….
-receiving a beautifully written email from my dad, and not taking the time to respond. I’m sorry dad!
-receiving a message from a friend and not even taking time to listen to it or call back for several days.
-Not appreciating the beauty of the life I have, the roof over my head, and the comfy furniture we have to rest on. Being a complainer.
-Not reaching out to new friends, when their offer of friendship is so clear.
That, my friends, is the most horrible part of being selfish. Ultimately, the message the above actions say is,” I don’t care about you. I don’t care about your time. I don’t care about our relationship. I don’t care about the beauty of the life God gives me.”
And embarrassingly, sometimes I go on and on about how busy I’ve been, and I use that as my cover-up. My ” I’ve been so busy; I’m sorry I didn’t call you back,” should really be, ” I’ve been really selfish and consumed lately; that is why I didn’t call you back. I apologize and hope you can forgive me.”
I have come a long way….but still have miles and miles to go.
Admittedly…..I am not finished. I am still being refined. I am being sanded with a high grain sand paper. I am being sculpted, like a piece of clay, lovingly caressed and molded by my Creator’s hands (Isaiah 64:8)
All my rough edges are being smoothed…
All my dents and unsightly grooves are being filled….
And although it hurts, although it forces change…I will allow it.
I will surrender to it.
I will allow myself to be refined and sanded into a new creation.
I will throw off my shame and cast it upon Jesus, he who cares about every single detail of my life.
Hebrews 4:16 says:
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Ephesians 3:12 says:
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
God says, “Come to my throne BOLDLY! Confidently and freely, knowing that you will receive mercy and grace to HELP you in your time of need.”
I am so thankful that I can cry out to God right now. That I can give him my habits of selfishness and release my shame to Him. That I can trust and allow Him to use me, change me, re-make me.
I am even more grateful that God is a God of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 1,000,000,000 chances.
And I am humbled and truly indebted to all of my family, old friends, and new friends who have offered forgiveness to me when I’m just too “busy.”
“Oh God of Love! I need you!
My selfishness consumes me!
My fears overwhelm me!
My shame covers me; Who could love one like me!
But God, you love one like me!
You love the ones like me AND the ones unlike me – all of us undeserving!
You reveal my selfishness!
You take my fears away!
You cover my shame and say, “Beloved, you are spotless in my eyes!”
Oh lovely, God of Love, you AWAKEN my soul from a dead place!
You know the nature of my heart and every thought in my mind!
You listen to my soul’s cries!
And, yet, You do not hide yourself!
You do not run away from my sordidness!
Instead, you reveal the depths of your grace and mercy!
You do NOT even flinch at my wretchedness!
You welcome me, without hesitation, before Your throne!
I am made speechless at the extravagant display of your Love!
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.
You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being, (Rev 4).“