Today, I am home sick. This morning I was supposed to attend a women’s brunch at church. I baked for it last night and woke up feeling miserable this morning. I started getting ready anyway because I really wanted to go, but I couldn’t get all those young mothers out of my mind. If I went and coughed all over them, they would possibly take all those germs home to their little people – and for a family with many kids, one simple cold can last for weeks.
After giving up the brunch, I went back to bed for several hours. When I woke up, I felt even worse than when I got up this morning. This made me mad because I had dinner plans with a friend. As I got up and tried to convince myself that I felt good enough to go out, I noticed a war was going on inside of me. My inner-three-year-old was throwing a fit, screaming, “I want to go out and play!” The adult me was admonishing, “Don’t go out with your friend, Heather. If you get her sick, she will be as miserable as you are feeling now.”
While it seems like the choice to stay home was obvious, I really struggled with it. Finally, I called my friend and told her I couldn’t make it. So, as a result, I’m going stir crazy… but such is life. Sometimes, we have to sacrifice what we want for the good of others.
When I was a kid, I thought that by the time I reached this age that I would be immune from selfishness. It seemed like the adults in my life gave constantly and never thought about themselves. Looking back on it now, I’m sure they struggled with selfishness as much as I do now. However, they chose to do what was selfless, even when their inner three-year-olds were screaming at them.
After I was born, I’m sure there were many times Mom and Dad would’ve rather slept in on Saturdays, arose out of bed and lazed around, or gone out at their leisure. Instead, they put their selfish desires at bay and did what parents do – they cared for their child.
My grandparents raised three children and by the time grandkids started coming along, I’m sure they could’ve used a break; yet, some of my earliest memories involve being at my grandma’s house, following her around, crying, wanting something, and almost never taking a nap. She could’ve called my parents and said, “Come get your child, I’m tired of this,” but she didn’t. She was, and still is, an amazing grandmother. My neighbor across the street growing up, affectionately known as “Miss Betty” taught school all day and without fail would get a visit from me almost every evening. She and I are not even related and I’m sure there were days she could’ve told me to go home and let her rest. But, she was a persevering godly example to me – and by giving me her time, she changed my life. She helped make the gospel real to me.
Having selfish desires is not unusual; giving into them at the expense of others is wrong. When you get married, you will have many times of testing in this area. All of a sudden, your life is not your own anymore (and if you are a follower of Christ, you know your life was never yours anyway). You recognized that there is someone in your house whose needs will outweigh your desires from time to time.
Today, I’m sure there are a thousand things Eric would’ve rather done than gone out to get me medicine and orange juice, but he did it without blinking. I hope I am as giving to him in his time of need as he has been to me today.
Selfishness is sneaky in relationships. Sometimes you don’t realize it’s rearing its ugly head until the damage is done. I know I’ve talked about selfishness before, but I was reminded today how much selfishness is at the root of marriage problems. Going into marriage with selfish motives, or marrying someone who has a habit of acting selfishly, is a recipe for disaster. You won’t be perfectly selfless ever, but you can start taking note of your actions now.
If you ask the Lord to show you the selfishness in your heart, be ready for a shock! We are all capable of more than we realize, and it is by the grace of God that we are not throwing caution to the wind and living only to please ourselves. Ask Him to reveal to you when you are making selfish decisions and to give you the grace to do what is right to others, especially your future spouse and children.
How often lately have you given in to your inner three-year-old? What was the outcome? When was the last time you pushed your inner child aside and made the mature choice? How did these two outcomes differ?