It’s hard to put into words the things that are happening with me on a spiritual level. I have been part of an amazing group of ladies from my homeschool community for Bible study and I really do feel this huge change inside of me. I have also been praying for God to really deal with my faults and show me where I am being hypocritical. More than anything, I have this desire to love people radically. I am not sure how to go about this…I just know I want to do it.
I was having a rough day with the hubby recently, when this little thought popped into my head: “How would this day be going if you loved him more than you love yourself.”
Huh. It’s not like this is a new concept. Christians are supposed to put other people first. It’s only a novel idea because it so rarely happens and that makes me sad. I stewed on this idea the whole day…I looked at it from every angle and I started to really think about what that would mean.
We live in a world that promotes a lot of self-love. I do think I need to love myself before I can love others – self-hatred only breeds a bunch of negative results – but the real question for me is: When does loving yourself cross into selfishness? It’s a thin line, really. At least it is for me. I want my needs met, damn it! I need my feelings justified. I can’t give you the benefit of the doubt or it might mean I am (*gasp*) wrong about something. Again, this is about my issues, your mileage may vary.
So how can I love my husband/children/friends more than I love myself? I plan to start with the following steps and actively practice them over the next 30 days.
1. Give them the benefit of the doubt. I jump to a lot of conclusions. I like for other people to assume the best of me, even when I screw up, so I need to do the same for those I love. I have to believe that intentions were better than results. Mistakes are called mistakes for a reason. I am going to believe the best of those I love. In fact, I am going to do my best to believe the best of the guy who cuts me off on the freeway. I don’t know what his day has been, and it feels better to be gracious than angry. This will be a huge effort for me, I won’t lie. (Love is patient, love is kind, it does not dishonor others.)
2. Stop trying to win. I have an obsessive need to be right and win arguments. But what am I winning? I might be winning a justification, but I am losing when it comes to those I love. We’re on the same team and I want our relationships to last for life. Hmmm. My need to be right is rooted in the idea that I *am* right…it’s rooted in the idea that I am somehow superior. I’m not. And even if I was better in some way, I am still supposed to put myself last as a Christian and always serve. Humility, humility, humility. (It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.)
3. Look for ways to go above and beyond. If I am loving someone more than I love myself, I should be looking for ways to express my love…ALL THE TIME. If I am totally focused on finding ways to love others, I don’t have to worry so much about “What’s in it for me?” I can literally change the dynamic in my home, and maybe in my community. How amazing would life be if we all walked around looking for the best ways to show our love for someone instead of worrying about how they are not showing love to us? It’s such a fine paradigm shift. Everyone wins when we work to put ourselves last and love someone else. (It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.)
The answer is right there in the Bible; it always has been. God is love. The definition of love (and therefore God) is clearly recorded in 1 Corinthians 13. Nothing I do matters if I don’t have love. I cannot expect love without giving it, which is really the problem. I do get angry, I do keep a record of wrongs, I do boast, I am proud. I have been acting in the ways that are opposite of love, yet expecting a different behavior from others. I can see my own hypocrisy, I hope, because I asked for it to be shown to me.
Today starts day 1 of loving others more than I love myself. If you are someone who prays, I would ask you to pray for me. I am going to privately journal the next 30 days, some of which I might share. I am certain I am going to need spiritual support during this time. If you want to join me, I would love to hear about your experiences as well. If trying to be like Jesus is my goal, I guess it’s time to start putting that into practice in realistic ways. Eek.