Saturday, January 26, 2013

Selfishness on display

It’s not a secret: I am a selfish person.

To some extent, we’re all selfish. But some of us more than others.

I have a few friends who I believe are among the most selfless people ever. They are moms of multiple little ones, and they give sacrificially, generously, continuously with their family.

I, on the other hand, fight against selfishness daily. Hourly. Moment by moment.

A few months ago we started discussing moving Samuel out of his bedroom on our main floor to our finished attic upstairs. Lauren is already upstairs and there are two rooms in the attic. I started dreaming of having a whole other room on our main floor.

Office?

Craft room?

TV/library room?

Maybe a combination of all of the above?

For as long as we’ve lived in our home, our bedroom has included our computers, a printer, my craft stuff, all of my books (of which there are a lot at all times and I can never find the one I’m looking for), a filing cabinet and endless piles of paper because I am the opposite of organized.

Our dressers look like garbage dumps (without the smell).

Really.

So at the thought of having additional space, I got excited.

Really excited.

And then after having approximately 24 hours to imagine the peace and beauty this room would create, my husband called.

And my selfishness was on display for all to see.

He has a friend who is struggling with some health issues. His current living situation is no longer working out. He needs a place to live. He is willing to pay rent.

We have a room.

We could use the extra money. 

And just like that my dreams and hopes of a peaceful, clean, organized room went up in smoke.

And I wasn’t happy.

I write at work about generosity. I believe Scripture calls me to live a life of giving and caring and sacrifice.

And yet when the opportunity arises, the flesh in me is all about self. My space. My home. My stuff. My room.

I have so much room to grow. And so much stuff to give away. And so much to organize : )

It’s hard to admit one is selfish. But it’s even harder when it’s on display for others to see.

But what God has been teaaching me this past year is that the solution isn’t for me to focus on trying to make myself less selfish.


The solution is God. It’s Jesus. It’s the Gospel story of grace.

It’s about recognizing and believing that the “gospel is the final answer to every issue and problem in life.”

Unselfishness will not come about by focusing my time and energy on pursuing an unselfish life. When I focus on the gospel and what God has already done, only then do I discover the power for transformation to take my ugly selfishness and replace it with God-honoring selflessness.

Because selflessness at its core means less of self. However, I like Stacy. I do not want less of Stacy.

The ugliness in my heart tells me I need more of Jesus because there isn’t room for both.
 


The situation with my husband’s friend didn’t pan out, but God certainly used it to reveal the state of my heart. And my daily, desperate need to saturate myself in the Gospel and in His grace.

"The Gospel isn’t only what we believe in — because the Gospel is ultimately what we. live. out." ~Ann Voskamp

Sunday, January 20, 2013

CaringBridge updates that change your life

My life is filled with CaringBridge updates these days. If you are not familiar with CaringBridge, it's a website used to update friends and family when a loved one is sick, in the hospital, had an accident or going through ongoing health challenges. Over the years I have received health updates from friends and family members.

But this month my inbox seems flooded with CaringBridge updates.

We receive updates on a regular basis from a beloved aunt who is slowly losing her battle with cancer. We are also receiving updates from a dear friend who has been in chronic pain and recently had major lung surgery to try to bring her relief.

Every time I check email....is there an update? If so, it is good news? Hard news? Sad news?

"Her lungs are filling with fluid, back to the OR she goes."


"Watching her deteriorate slowly. It hurts. I cry a lot."

"It's been a good day, I think we are turning a corner."

"No guilt in life, no fear in death...this is the power of Christ in me."

You learn a lot about a person when they're walking through fire. Take for example, a couple of young guys who boldly declared 'even if' before their king and literally ended up walking through fire.

I came across this quote recently:


“Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.”
-Unknown Author

I watch the parents of my friend be strong. I read about our uncle who reflects strength that is supernatural.

And I know that I know that I know that these people are being held up by the power of prayer. They walk through deep valleys. They face painful times ahead.

Their strength does not come from inner strength that they themselves possess. Their strength comes from our Living God, the Author and Creator of life.

Last night Ryan and I watched this video and I've watched it multiple times since.
It's called Even If by Kutless.




I stand amazed as I watch my friend and our aunt go through heartache and long for healing. For our aunt, healing will not come this side of Heaven. For my friend, we are waiting to see the outcome of her surgery. But through the years of pain and illness, both individuals have declared 'Even If' with her words, her actions, her faith, her trust.


As the lyrics to this song touch and challenge my heart personally, I can't help but think of you all  (my blog readers and your unique journeys) as well:

"Even if the healing doesn't come and life falls apart and dreams are still undone.....you are God, you are good, forever faithful one, even if the healing doesn't come. You're still the great and mighty one. We trust you always. You're working all things for our good. We'll sing your praise."

And I wonder...and I pray...would we each still sing God's praise even if our healing doesn't come the way we hope and pray it does?

Reading CaringBridge updates this year has left me undone. I cry. I cheer. I question. I plead and petition the Lord. I praise Him for His goodness and faithfulness even amidst the hard.

While the CaringBridge updates are not Holy Spirit-inspired words of Scripture, they are lovingly written about living, breathing, humble servants who are courageously walking the path God has called them too. They do so with grace and strength and with a declaration of 'Even If.'

And their stories and their faith have forever changed my life.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My greatest fear


This is a repost from last year, but I believe so strongly in what I wrote that I'm posting it again. I would love to hear your thoughts...please leave a comment below.

--
The Only Thing I Fear

For the past couple of weeks everyone seems to be writing about New Year's Resolutions.


They are asking questions like: Do you resolve? Why or why not? How can we help keep our resolutions? Why can’t we keep our resolutions?

One piece I read stated that the reason many Americans don’t make resolutions anymore is because we have a fear of failure.

I agree.

For some, fear of failure is the greatest fear of all. Therefore they don't even try:

  • Don’t worry about avoiding fast food because eventually you'll give in.
  • It's not worth trying to get organized, you're a messy at heart.
  • Forget about not checking Facebook every hour...you're addicted.
  • Don’t begin an exercise plan because it won’t last.

Do. Don’t. Begin. Start. Stop.

Here’s the thing: most of the resolutions we are worried about failing are all about self. And a lot of them are very insignificant.

Me.

My life.

My betterment.  

Ponder this statement for a moment:


“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.”
- Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God


When our goals are to eat less chocolate, watch less television and spend less money, we are consumed by me.

Those are all healthy (and probably wise) endeavors, but they are still all about self.

And, according to news sources, it turns out that we are so fearful of failing at these all-about-self resolutions, that many of us don't even make them anymore.

Rather than worrying about failing at our insignificant resolutions, shouldn’t our greatest fear be that we are going to succeed at those things?
  • Less time on Facebook. Check.
  • A smaller pants size. Check.
  • A more organized home. Check.
  • Less money spent eating out. Check.
  • Fewer minutes wasted on mindless television. Check. 

Then, once we succeed at those things, we can pat ourselves on the back and go along living our comfortable, self-focused life. We smile because we resolved and we did and we became.

But all the while we overlook the things in life that really matter: people.

Other people.

The family member with the addiction. The coworker who just got a diagnosis. The parent who is ill. The friend who is grieving. The child who is struggling. The neighbor who is lonely. The causes of injustice that are too great to list.

Our biggest fear should not be that we’re going to fail at insignificant things.

Our biggest fear should be that we're going to succeed at things that don't matter for eternity. 

At times, even 'Christian' resolutions have the potential to become self-focused and all-consuming: Read through the Bible in 2012. Memorize 52 passages of Scripture. Keep a consistent, daily quiet time.

Those can absolutely be life-transforming practices. But if memorizing 52 passages of Scripture only gives you head knowledge and doesn't change the way your heart beats every single moment of every single day...it's not about Jesus. It's about self doing, becoming, stopping, starting, changing, trying, striving.

David Platt, author of Radical: Taking Back Your faith from the American Dream, talks about his greatest fear:

“My biggest fear, even now, is that I will hear Jesus' words and walk away, content to settle for less than radical obedience to Him. ”

 
Radical obedience isn't about improving self. It's isn't about striving to make resolutions that make us better people. And it certainly isn't about fearing that we are going to fail our list of 2012 resolutions.

It’s simply about falling in love with Jesus and taking care of the people He has put into your life.

It’s not complicated. 

Instead of balancing your checkbook, write a check out to help the homeless...the hungry...the hurting. Instead of worrying about getting to the gym so you can fit into smaller pants, find an elderly person who is lonely and take them for a walk. Instead of complaining about how tired you are, ask how someone else is doing - and really listen to their answer. Instead of worrying about eating less chocolate, take a kid from a rough home out for hot chocolate.

Don’t resolve to be, do, have, stop or start.

Just go. Offer. Sit. Ask. Touch. Cry. Listen. Care.

Then you we will have nothing to fear.

"The only thing I'm afraid of is living an insignificant life."
- Louie Giglio, Passion Conference 2012