There are a hundred ways that I could write this post. I think that it will end up being a stream of consciousness and pondering.
Are you ready?
I think that God had a lesson planned for me this past week (and likely for the remaining weeks I am on this earth). It was called, "Bethany, deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me." I think the one thing that I've been realizing the most lately is the extent of my selfishness. I am selfish. There, I said it. Whether it is wanting to be better at Spanish than my husband (which I am not) or wanting to Facebook rather than read and meditate on the words of Scripture....selfishness abounds. I think of how many times I get annoyed (and express that outwardly) because I have to put someone else's needs or wants ahead of my own. I find myself yelling in my mind...but I have a "right" to want what I want...it is my "right" to have personal time, etc. So many of my supposed 'needs' and wants get shoved to the background on a daily basis. There seems to always be a choice between "self" and "self-denial". Self-denial can look like: giving someone a ride when I'd rather not, welcoming in a 'sick pet' and its owner for Jeff to tend to, feeding a parrot (whom my youngest adores) who can't feed itself, delaying aspects of my own adjustment here so that my kids can be well adjusted, fetching various items that the kids need, being available to listen when I'd rather talk....the list goes on.
Now before you all start emailing me and assuring me that personal and restful time is good and necessary...I am not denying that. I know that. God does give rest. Psalm 23 promises that. Jesus did go off by himself to pray. But isn't the heart motivation behind all that...to be refreshed so that you can continue to serve others and sacrifice? However, what I am seeing in my heart is a demanding spirit of my so-called "rights". When Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24NIV), he was making it pretty clear that following him is a life of self-denial. None of this is anything less than what Christ did and gave himself. Does He give me rest and refreshment and fun times? Absolutely. But I think that those things are His provision and His care for me...they are not my "rights."
Self-denial and following Jesus...these things sound crazy at best. Yet, my faith compels me to pursue this...so, call me crazy, it is better than being called selfish.