This morning I was thankful for quiet, calm, a fairly clean kitchen, coffee brewing, sun shining.  I felt content.  Then my kids happened.  Oh, roughly 30 minutes after I woke up, my kids were gearing up for their day, one by one making their way downstairs.  My thankfulness was hard-pressed to stand its ground.  The fort was built when she came down the stairs.  They were using too many blankets.  “She has my lantern and you’re not sharing the tents.  It was my idea to bring them up from the basement, you know.”  Wow, good morning to you too, Sunshine.  My word, that child rolls out of bed forming arguments and cross-examinations and it never is ok to just say ok.  The others, they argue too.  Their own protests coming out high-pitched and defensive.  My, mine, I, me…  We are such self-focused creatures.  Are we not?  We look out for number one.  We strive to be the best.  We want to feel comfortable and accommodated and why can’t she just see where I’m coming from?  That’s how we’re raised…at least by our society at large.   What do I want to do with my life?  What makes me happy?  How can I acquire more?  I deserve _____________ (fill in the blank).  It is such a huge focus as we journey through our lives.  Focusing so much energy and attention on ourselves makes us less able to see others.  To love others.  To serve others.  Think of some famous people who were not self-focused.  How about Mother Teresa?  The great icon of selfless love.  She once said, “A life not lived for others is not a life.”  That’s cutting to the chase!  So, what you’re saying Mother Teresa, is if we are only focused on ourselves, we are not really living at all?  Um, well, but…  Uh-huh.  The Bible has a few things to say about that too:

No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.  (I Corinthians 10:24, NIV)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV)

(Hmm, wonder where she got the idea for that line anyway?)  We also have the Golden Rule.  Do to others what you would have them do to you.  Wait a minute.  That’s in the Bible too!  (Matthew 7:12) I preach that one to my kids regularly.  Some days I feel like all my parenting (ie: talking, guiding, rebuking, directing, re-directing) is amounting to a whole lot of nothing.  Then I remember that I still struggle with being selfish.  Not putting others first and why doesn’t anyone help me with the dishes around here?!  Does anyone notice everything I do anyway?  I deserve a Blizzard.  (Yep, chocolate and peanut butter, please.)  Whoa!  What?  I’m not selfish.  I do so much for everyone.  I work hard taking care of these people.  Ok, yes, so maybe I’m a bit selfish too.  We’re all still learning, right?  As long as we’re still really learning.  My kids are still learning.  I’m pretty sure I haven’t ruined them yet.  I’m still learning.  I can only pray daily, minutely even, that He helps me recognize when I’ve stopped trying to learn and lean and I’m just thinking about me, myself and I…

Investigate my life, O God, {search me}

    find out everything about me; {know me}

Cross-examine and test me, {lay it all out on the table}

    get a clear picture of what I’m about; {show truth}

See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— {be Judge and jury}

then guide me on the road to eternal life.  {lead me, make me lean}  (Psalm 139:23, MSG)

Yes, it is my job to train my children.  It’s also my job to be a good example of what I’m training them.  I won’t always do that very well.  We mess up and regret things we said.  We do things without thinking and loving.  We go to bed and wake up the next morning to rich and glorious and new mercies and extravagant grace.  Every. Day.  “Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,  Leaning on the everlasting arms.”  Spend time with Him before you start your day.

Head bowed and heart humbled–repent.

Arms open and love-full–accept forgiveness.

Heart open–receive grace.

Go–love others.



One thought on “Today

  1. Hi Ilene, I am reminded of Christ Himself who demonstrated His servanthood. Simply loving and serving others unconditionally. I am also reminded of a quote by Zig Ziglar : “help others get what they want in life and you will get what you want”. And then God Himself who had to GIVE His best just so He could get us back. What a better place our world would be if we all thought of others first huh? Then I am also reminded of the scripture “love thy neighbor as thyself”. Perhaps people are not able to love others the way they ought to because they don’t love themselves enough to begin with? Perhaps they are too critical of themselves and therefore are not able to love themselves the way God loves them? As a result they are unable to love others… because to love another like oneself…. that one first needs to love oneself. A completely profound way of looking at that scripture isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

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