Thursday, June 17, 2010

Remaining Selfless In A Selfish World

Selfish is defined as "the act of placing one's own needs or desires above the needs or desires of others" according to Wikipedia. Think of the number of times the word selfish runs through your head. Can you count? If you are like me it would be 0. Now that doesn't mean I'm not selfish or act selfishly. It simply means I don't think about being selfish on a daily basis. I simply act without thinking. Granted, there are plenty of times that I act selflessly as well. Times in which the needs of my children and husband are placed above my own. But.....if I am honest as Abe Lincoln, I will tell you that I can be a rather selfish person.

When I met David, there were a number of qualities that drew me to him. His eyes being the first. His heart was right up there as well. David's heart is amazingly large - not just for people in his family or his circle of friends, but for strangers as well. He has to be one of the most giving and selfless people I know. He will put the needs of others above his own without hesitation. He doesn't contemplate placing his own agenda aside to assist and serve another. He once told me that one of the qualities that bothers him the most in others is selfishness. He doesn't become annoyed often but when he sees people around him acting in a selfish way, especially now around his children, he becomes irritated. Imagine my surprise the first time that I chose my needs over his.

Through the course of our relationship, he has helped me to realize that it is not just an option but a command to place aside our own needs and desires for the better or others. After all, isn't that exactly what Jesus did?

So with all of that being said, I have taken his words to heart and tried to instill in my children the same way of thinking. Here are a few examples:
1) you do not have to butt in line to be the first little girl to go down the slide
2) we do not have to push or hit others to get the very best seat at the movie theater
3) we will offer our sister the last piece of candy even if we want it really bad (and hope that sister is gracious enough to split it with us)
4) we do not have to drive fast into the parking lot simply to get the very best parking space
5) we do not have to complain or become upset when a particular book is read and it happened to be not the exact one we were hoping for

These are a few examples. How many times have we seen pushy kids on the playground or pushy adults at church. More than I'd like to count. We think that we need the closest parking spot despite the fact that God gave us two perfectly functioning legs and the older gentleman behind us may not be able to ambulate as well as we can. Or perhaps we forged ahead to get the very best seat in the movie theater despite the fact that God gave us two perfectly functioning eyes and the little girl behind us who hasn't quite figured out she needs glasses yet can't see as well.
Is this all making sense.

Selfishness - it is all around us. It is hard living much less raising our children to live selflessly when those around us are indulging in selfishness. Stop for one moment and think about you can actively put aside your own needs tomorrow for the sake of others.

With that being said, I will end this post with a story. As hard as I try and drive this concept home with my children, selfishness rears its ugly head. About a month or two ago, I drove through Starbucks and picked myself up a yummy latte. I hardly can escape the drive thru these days without hearing from the backseat "can I get a coffee too (hot cocoa)? That day I was feeling generous. And so I purchased the girls their hot cocoa. I bought one and instructed them to pass back and forth nicely. They were to take even amount of drinks and pass it off to each other when asked. Usually this isn't a problem although sometimes I hear "I don't like her slobbers." That day things were going good. Mattea had taken a few drinks and passed to Paloma. Well, Paloma took a drink, then another, then another, then another until the entire drink was gone. I began to hear complaints from the backseat and demanded Paloma hand over the cup - which I then realized was empty. I was appalled and asked her why she was selfish and drank all the cocoa without leaving any for her sister. Her response "I was firsty (thirsty)". How simple. She was thirsty.

She didn't even stop to think about whether or not her sister was thirsty. She just new that in that moment, she was thirsty and her desire must be met. How many times do we make it that easy? I'm thirsty, I'm hungry, I'm tired and can't walk that far, I'm broke, I'm this I'm that. Excuses, excuses. But what it boils down to is that we were placed on this earth to serve others, to love others. Service to ourselves doesn't count. Think about that the next time your selfish drive kicks in.

A man is called selfish not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor's.
Richard Whately

1 comment:

Sara said...

Wow, Heather that was a great posting! Something I think everyone could needs to think about a little more than we do! It's so important for us to realize how selfish we can be and that that is not God's purpose for us. As Christians we should strive to remember just how selfless Christ was when he came to Earth as a man and died for our sins. Thanks again I really enjoyed it!:)