So bound in selfishness am I, so chained,I know it must be glorious to be freeBut know not what, full-fraught, the word doth mean.By loss on loss I have severely gainedWisdom enough my slavery to see;But liberty, pure, absolute, serene,No freest-visioned slave has ever seen.George McDonald The Diary of an Old Soul
We are selfish creatures. Selfish to the bone. And as soon as we succeed a little at putting the needs and wants of others ahead of ourselves, we’re thinking about how much we’ve sacrificed our time or our money or our dreams for someone else. And we’re plotting to get that time… or that money….or that dream back. And maybe I shouldn’t include you in my ‘we’. Maybe I can only speak for the profoundly selfish tendencies I see in myself. You’d think that motherhood would have cured me of this. But it hasn’t. I still viciously protect certain things in my life, that I forbid even mothering to encroach upon. I want some time ‘to myself’. I want some things ‘to myself’. If we’re brutally honest, we spend most of our lives making provisions for our own selfish desires. Even the love we have for our children is tainted with selfishness. We want them to look and dress and act the right way. And even all those hours we spend toting them around to lessons, seemingly a selfless act, is riddled with selfishness. We want them to be the best at whatever they do. Partly because it reflects well on us.
Have you ever noticed that when you tell a story that involves you, the tendency is to portray yourself in the best possible light. We will sacrifice almost anything at the altar of self-preservation. And I know, I know what you’re gonna say. And it’s true. It’s the way we’re made. At least it’s the way we’ve been since the fall of Adam in the garden. We are turned in on ourselves. We can only see things from our own selfish perspective.
Oh how I long for the day when I am free from the shackles and tyranny of this ‘slavery’ as McDonald calls it.
But until then, I am determined to practice. Today, I will purposely, and with reckless abandon, practice giving myself away. I will pray for God’s strength to see with new eyes the needs of others. I will ask His wisdom in showing me how to be a servant. How to see the world through another’s eyes. I will echo the beautiful words of George McDonald as I pray for God to do for me what I cannot do for myself.
From thine, as then, the healing virtue goesInto our hearts-that is the Father’s plan.From heart to heart it sinks, it steals, it flows,From these that know thee still infecting those.Here is my heart–from Thine, Lord, fill it up,That I may offer it as the holy cupOf thy communion to my every man.