I struggle with this daily. It is so tempting to put myself first, put my kids first, put my family first. Ignore what's going on elsewhere and imagine that my little family in our happy little house is the whole world. That way, I am free to get annoyed about small things like dishes left on the kitchen table and laundry that never gets put away, as if that's the worst life ever hands out.
But Christ calls us to live differently: to place others above ourselves; to be aware of our brothers and sisters who live next door and those who live across the world. We need to be connected to others in order to truly know their needs. Rob and I were talking recently about how we feel we are not doing enough. The more we know about the brokenness in this world the greater the urge to DO something. We've been to Africa. It wasn't enough. We give regularly to certain causes. It isn't enough. We are adopting an orphan from Ethiopia. It isn't enough.
None of that will ever be enough. The brokenness out there is bigger than I am. I will always struggle with the feeling that I'm not doing enough. Thank goodness God didn't choose me to be the world's savior, 'cause boy am I failing at that one! I was reminded at church this morning of two things:
1. I need to lose myself more
2. God is bigger than everything I worry about.
I realized that lately I've been ignoring some of the reasons we are adopting. I catch myself saying we're adopting because "we want another child and there is a child who needs a family" as if that child is just happily playing on a playground, waiting for some parents to happen along. While that is certainly part of our motivation, we are adopting for other reasons as well. For one, God tells us to care for orphans. That means God knew there would be orphans and he made a plan for them to be cared for... it's us. I have seen the state of things in Africa. I have not yet been to Ethiopia, but I've been to Swaziland and I saw the poverty, the hurting, the brokenness. I want desperately to keep at least one child from suffering in that way. God knew there would be poverty and suffering - He tells us what to do about that in the Bible, too. Again, his plan includes us.
I have two options. I can stay selfish. I can put on my tunnel-vision goggles and only see what's happening in my own life. Or I can lose myself. I can choose to open my eyes and see those who are suffering. And I can do something about it. God has a plan for us to reach out and live in true community with others. I won't be doing any saving... it's all Him. I don't want to miss out on any part of what He's doing because I've stuck my head in the sand of my own life.
It may not lead to the "American dream", but I praise God every day for the opportunity to live selflessly. I have a long way to go, but God has changed my heart. I want to live every day for others. That desire could only come from the Creator who designed us in such a way that we need to live in community, putting each other above ourselves (because, trust me, it is not part of my nature!) When I am truly putting others first, I find such joy - much more so than when I achieve my own self-made goals.
We're doing something new this Christmas. I'm an avid Christmas card fan. I love to get them, love to send them out. We have a Christmas card list over 100 people long. This year, I'm still designing a card but we won't be mailing it. I'll be emailing it out (maybe posting it on the blog) and making a donation instead. It is one way I'm going to keep the focus away from me and outward towards others. This is hard for me. I love Christmas cards. In fact, I still have the ones we received last year so I can compare them to ones we get this year & see who has grown, what has changed, etc.
I'm such a nerd.