Selfishness is one of those sins I think everyone struggles with greatly, though we seldom recognize it. The last few years, I've noticed it more. Sometimes the battle is H A R D and other times, not so much (and that very well could be because I'm ignorant of it).
I am very selfish with my time. I am very blessed in that I do not have to work outside the home. Before we were married, Bobby and I looked at all our options, and decided that for us and our situation, it would be best if I were his caregiver. And for this season of our lives, that is still the case. The first year of our marriage, against his advice but with his blessing, I worked part-time, about 30 hours a week. And it was rough. When my contract ended at the end of the school year, I didn't renew it. Five years later I went back to school as a student, and then resumed working part-time again. It started out as 20 hours, which was manageable, then increased to 25. I found myself frustrated and out of whack, and when hints and suggestions for 30 hours or full-time started being made, I had absolute peace about being a stay-at-home wife. Thankfully most people are understanding, though there have been some the last few years that seem to think because I don't have children and don't work, that I have absolutely nothing to do and are free for their every beckon and call. They don't see the 3-6 hours a day that caregiving requires, or the responsibilities I volunteer for. I find my patience for these people very shallow, even when their requests are legitimate. I ponder that a friend can call during one of my busier weeks with a need and I'll bend over double to help them and love every minute of it, but one of these few people can call when my schedule is somewhat empty, and I cringe at helping them, even resent the time. That's not love; that's not kindness; that's not Christlike. I've been working on my attitude with these people and situations. Some days, I manage things a little better. Others, I lose that battle with almost no fight.
This weekend brings about another fight in the same area, but with a much different angle. If you're an adult and childless, I don't have to tell you that Mother's Day is one of the most painful days on the calender. It would be one thing if I were at church with my Mom and honoring her, but to sit in an auditorium when every other adult female is standing and listen to everyone raving about what their kids did for them that morning is hard. The reality is, no matter how hard it is for me, those women are my friends, and they deserve it. Yes, it hurts immensely that like Hannah, I'm forgotten. Yes, it drives me crazy that the sermon that morning is almost always about motherhood (and even crazier when they talk about barren Hannah...who had a child!!!! How's that for pouring salt in a wound?) But it doesn't change the fact that every day of every year my friends sacrifice their time, energy, desires, money, and sleep for miniature people. It doesn't change the fact that they are taking their responsibilities to teach these little people right from wrong very seriously. I watch them on Sunday mornings as I can focus on the music and the words overhead but they keep one eye on a wriggling body beside them. I see their faces flush as a little body goes into full panic mode as the offering plate comes near and that child is slinging everything on the pew everywhere in desperation to find their money, and they seem to delight in dropping the coins as loudly as they can. And the parents are horrified. There are so many Sundays I see their exhaustion, and I want to hug them and shake them and say "It's okay! Everyone else is laughing. You're doing a good job. I love your child's generosity, their seriousness about giving, their willingness to share their offering with the child in front and behind them who forgot theirs, even when you only want them to sit still in their seat. And when your child wants to move from one row to the next to be next to you, I think that's an incredible testament that they feel safe and secure beside you, that they love you." But I don't. So why should I not for one Sunday a year gladly smile and edify my sisters who struggle every single Sunday? The selfish part of me wants to argue that they get their rewards with nightly hugs and group activities with other Moms and kids, with family portraits, and such, but the reality is there are times when those Moms would like a day to read a book or go shopping without hearing "Mom!" every three minutes. I go to church because I love Jesus. I go to church because I need interaction with other believers. To stay at home because I hurt and ache so badly inside on a day when my friends are honored for their sacrifices...that's selfishness. No matter how bad the ache or how hard the hour, my mother and my friends who are moms do deserve the recognition they receive. What type of soldier runs from an awards ceremony because his friends are being pinned and she's not? We've all heard the saying "the world doesn't revolve around you", but yet, there are days when we seem to act or think like it does. For me, Mother's day fits into that category.
So as I see the Facebook posts piling up from barren and single friends about their dread for this Sunday, I wrestle. Like so many, I long to surrender to selfish desires and stay home, to avoid the well-meaning but ignorant people wishing me "Happy Mother's Day 'cause you're so like a Mom", but I can't. I need to celebrate my Mother and friends for the job they do, to let them know that I'm in their corner praying and cheering them on, that I applaud them for being so dedicated to the task God has blessed them with. Overcoming sinful desires, even when they seem reasonable, is hard. But I serve the Great Physician who promises to heal my hurts. With that promise, can I not set aside my personal desires to celebrate and show joy for friends and sisters in Christ who have a reason to celebrate?