We are now into our second week of talking about growing up. I obviously haven’t been writing about topics in order of priority or this one would have been written the first week for sure!
Our natural tendendency is to think of ourselves first!
There isn’t one of us who doesn’t at some point struggle with this one. We are too human. Despite the many who talk about having to learn to take care of themselves, the truth is...we naturally think of ourselves first. We find a way to feed ourselves, get some sleep, tho’ not as much as we’d like sometimes, and even get a shower or bath!
With time, we learn how to cover up our natural instinct that shows up early in childhood…we want our own way, our own toys, we don’t want to share, and we definitely don’t like to be told “No!” Particularly when the person telling us “No” follows through with what he is saying and shows that he means it. We find ways to subtley cover up our more forceful ways of doing those things, but we still manage to get them done…our own way gets done, we find ways to avoid sharing and we still hate to be told “No!”
The terrible two’s teach us that when two wills collide, (parent/child) one is going to have to yield. Hopefully, the least wise of the two, the one least able to live independently, will have to yield to the ones in charge of leading him through life. If that doesn’t happen, the home will most likely be chaotic! Constant power struggles are no fun…for anyone!
Adulthood gives us the opportunity to put others before ourselves…something we never thought we’d have to do once we were grown!
Then we arrive at adulthood, that time when we foolishly thought we would be out on our own, able to do whatever we wanted. What do we learn? We needed a job so we would have money to provide for ourselves. We needed to manage said money so there would be some left at the end of the pay period. We needed to do enough housework so that our clothes would be clean, some food cooked and the place where we lived would be clean enough.
Along the way, we may have met someone and married. After we married, we learned we were more selfish than we realized. At least I don’t think I was unique in that department!
As time went on, we may have had children. With each child came a new awareness that our selfishness had not yet been conquered. Silly us, we actually wanted to sleep at night…all night!
At some point along the way, we had to decide that we had to put someone or someones ahead of ourselves and our personal priorities. For some of us it was a much more painful process than for others, but there was usually pain involved.
Growing in putting others ahead of ourselves is often involuntary…often it is brought about by necessity
The thing about this process is that it never ends. The children grow up and for the most part, their needs aren’t as immediate as they once were. But then parents become weaker, fail and start needing some help. Spouses become ill or start to fail. Sometimes, we are the spouse who becomes ill.
Our lives take turns we didn’t plan on. We need to care for loved ones…or change aspects of our lives because of changed circumstances.
These are the times we begin to learn the value of putting the needs of another person before our own. This is when we start growing up.
How do we know we are learning to be more selfless?
- When we stop keeping track of how many favors we have done vs. the number of favors that have been done for us.
- When our first thought is for the other person instead of for all the trouble and work it will be for us to care for them.
- When we don’t have anger or resentment lapping at the corners of our mind over our circumstance.
This is not an experience we will frequently have, but GOD will grow it in us…by His grace.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,
but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests,
but also to the interests of others.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,
being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Ask GOD to show you where you need to be aware of the needs of others around you. Sometimes their needs are staring you in the face and you don’t see them. In the same way He opened the eyes of the blind man, He will open your eyes to the needs of people around you.
Often your family members are the ones you are most blind to. Again, I don’t think I am unique in that way.
In the same way we need to be aware of ways we need to put others before ourselves, we also need GOD’s wisdom to show us how to help. We need to be respectful and honoring as well as loving. It takes wisdom to do that.
CF. PHIL 2