Well, here we are, trudging through May.
Somehow, we’re already on the second week, and if you’re feeling like time is traveling at breakneck speed, then get in line.
I’ve received a lot of messages from thoughtful, lovely humans asking how my mom is doing in her stroke recovery. And, honestly, she’s doing amazing. She is my hero, and has made a remarkable recovery so far.
But reflecting on her journey, since that fateful evening, December 27, I’ve also done some reflecting on my own journey.
I’ve learned a lot of things. Some pretty important – like relearning how to drive a car. Because yes, the stereotype is true that New Yorkers don’t know how to drive. Some trivial, like never to take an Aspirin on an empty stomach.
But if I were to boil down the biggest thing I’ve learned from this journey so far, besides the obvious one of “trust God,” it’s this:
Life exists for more than just you.
Often times, I’d catch myself getting inside my own head. I’d be feeling annoyed or exhausted, or emotionally spent and frazzled with absolutely zero patience left, and God would remind me to step outside myself.
I’d be reminded that life exists for more than just me. Sure, maybe I’m feeling this way, but how is my mom feeling? Think about what she is going through right now, and have some compassion. My patience and my love to her costs me nothing, and means everything to her.
Or, realizing that other people are going through things too, and my actions can actually positively impact another person, who could really need it: Things like emptying the dishwasher or refilling pill containers, or even just a deliberate smile. Little things that no one needs to know, that can help life operate smoothly for someone else.
I’ve learned that I need to take my focus off of myself – even just to ask one question: how do I think _______ feels?
I never really thought of myself as a self-centered person before this. But, it turns out, that when you’re a single, independent young woman with no roommates, living in NYC, your life is pretty self-focused, no matter which way you slice it. Even if it is not your intention. Because, really, aside from work and your boss, you pretty much are free to live your life how you want it.
You don’t have to report to anyone, you’re free to eat what you want, when you want, go to bed when you want. You’re free to watch what you want on TV, be social when you want, yadda yadda yadda. You get the picture.
Taking myself out of my central focus changed things. It changed me. Changed my heart.
Because every time I’d respond to one of those “out-of-myself”-moments, and check in with my mom, she’d say something so simple and profound, and I’d walk away having a totally different perspective on things.
I’d walk away realizing fully that life really does exist for more than just me.
But what’s more, is that when we live with consideration for others, God really does change our hearts. He gives us a peace and joy that only comes from loving others. Because after all, whatever we do to even the least of these, we do to Him. (Matt 25:40)
Loving others, and keeping others in our minds – it’s a form of worship. Service is worship, because in giving of ourselves to others, we are giving ourselves to Him.
It turns out, all of the living-for-myself that I was doing in NYC – all the ways I thought I was free – are merely a superficial placeholder for true freedom.
The true freedom that Jesus calls us to is a counter-intuitive notion. Because the freedom He gives is the freedom that comes from obedience.
And what did He call us to do?
“Use your freedom to… serve one another humbly in love. “ (Gal 5:13)
Turns out that freedom is not the lack of a curfew. Or the control of the Netflix queue.
Turns out its giving of yourself without fear.
And in giving, we end up receiving the greatest gift of all.
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