A Lesson in ‘Dying to Self’

 

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When I was little, I used to love to perform for others. At 5 years old I would take my me-maw’s cane (not while she was using it, ha!), put on a cowboy hat and boots, and dance around to Billy Ray Cyrus while my grandmother looked on and clapped along. One time at Thanksgiving, I made everyone get up from the table and follow me outside so that I could show them my new gymnastics moves. What I was doing was hardly gymnastics, just a bunch of rolling and tumbling, but I was proud and I loved an audience.

As I got older, I didn’t so much as care about the audience as I did about making people laugh and smile. And maybe even seeking their approval of me.

I have always felt set apart by God. Even when I didn’t know Him. I felt destined for greatness, I felt different from others. I felt like there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do or accomplish. The world was my oyster. Before knowing Jesus, this manifested itself in me wanting to be a model (HA!), a TV personality, a veterinarian, a nanny for the stars, a singer/dancer…you get the idea. Anything that was not a sit-still job, anything that allowed my personality to flourish and that put me in front of an audience.

After meeting Jesus, it manifested itself in my wanting to go around the world to serve Him. I’ve wanted to open a local homeless shelter (because it is kind of sad how little provision the homeless have in my county). After getting in the Biology program, I saw my passion for animals so I thought I’d use that to start a farm sanctuary, intending to give some of the profits to local charity. Then I wanted to rehabilitate injured raptors/birds, or work with the Humane Society and rescue animals in need. All of these things are grand things (to me). They involve me using my skills (I’m great with animals) and centering my passions on work that I would use to glorify the Father. Sometimes (while in the program) I’d imagine myself rehabilitating a bird, and then being able to set it free in the wild…and how amazing that would feel, how great it would be to be a part of that. Other times I would imagine myself buying and renovating an old building in town to turn it into a homeless shelter that offered job training. I even began laying down the plans for it! I never felt like I couldn’t do these things.

Then I graduated.

I have applied to countless jobs, with only one nonprofit contacting me for an interview (I never got the job). After two months of looking for a job, I began to get frustrated with God. “Where do you want me? Why is this taking so long? I’m not doing anything, I feel so useless and worthless.”  I would pray for God to open doors, for Him to put something in front of me that would allow me to glorify and please Him. It eventually came to the point where I didn’t feel peace about job searching anymore. In everything I did, I felt like I was missing the mark…like God had this big sign in front of me, but I was too busy trying to fulfill my own desires that I was ignoring what He was trying to tell me.

I began to rest and listen for His voice. I began reading my Bible for clarity of mind, and BOOM. There it was..the huge billboard message that God was trying to get me see all along:

Titus 2: 3-5 — “Likewise, teach older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to too much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

Busy. At. Home. 

I began crying as soon as I read that because I felt God taking me back through that phrase again and again. I had been so busy trying to make myself busy somewhere else that I was ignoring what God was calling me to do in my own home.

This past weekend at church, our Pastor said that the our greatest fear is often the thing that God wants to call us into. When I went home, I tried to think of what my greatest fear was…and it is this. It is what I’m living right now. My greatest fear is God calling me to live a quiet life at home instead of going out into the world to do great things for Him. My greatest fear is that His thought of “doing great things for Him” means that I stay home and serve my husband and take care of the household. My greatest fear is exchanging all of my “dreams” for everyday, ordinary tasks, like ironing my husbands clothes, or doing the dishes.

And so I accepted it. The next week I went at my chores like I was doing them for the Lord. I sang worship music all day long and felt extremely happy to be helping my spouse (who works 70 hours a week)…but then Friday came. Friday I woke up in a foul mood. I was done. I didn’t want to serve Jason. I didn’t want to help him, what about me?! And not only that, but it was his only day off and he had to spend most of it away from me. I hadn’t seen him all week, and I really missed him. I knew throughout the week that Jason would be gone for half the day on his day off, and I didn’t mind. But all of a sudden, I had become a monster. I wanted his full, undivided attention. I deserved his undivided attention after all of the chores I did that week. I was livid.

I spent all of that day in a funk, while deep inside I knew I was grieving my Spirit. I felt justified in my thoughts, though. I felt entitled to my husbands time. Clearly, I was not making Jasons only day off the greatest day ever.

Around 8 pm, I came into the living room to find candles lit everywhere and one of my favorite songs playing the background. My husband asked me to dance and I said ‘Yes’ (Jason hates dancing, so I knew he was really getting out of his comfort zone to make me happy). As we started slow-dancing, the Lord whispered in my ear:

“Dying to self is not a Monday-Friday thing…it is every single day. It doesn’t end when your husband is off of work. It means that you do whatever you can to help him succeed at the things he thinks are important. It means giving up your time and expectations to serve him. It means building him up when you are feeling broken. It means you no longer seek his approval or others, but MINE. It is hard. One of the hardest things you will ever do. But I promise that if you embrace this, I will equip you with more than you need to live in peace. You will live in my Love-Light and shine like the sun. At the end of the day, you will look to Me and I will say ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ “

I broke down and apologized to my husband for my terrible attitude. And a huge weight was lifted from me. A huge peace descended over me.

 

This has been weeks ago. And the Lord has kept His promise. He has equipped me with other scripture as affirmation that He has me right where He wants me.

“He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3

All of Proverbs 31, specifically: ” She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” (31:27)

1 Timothy 5: 10 (speaking of widows, but this applies to every woman) “…and is known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.”

I get a lot of my affirmation from 1st and 2nd Timothy, and Titus 2.

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After embracing this, there has been such a shift of Spirit in my household. My husband and I are closer than ever. He has begun telling me everyday that all of the things I do help him so much. He has begun thanking me for even the smallest of tasks…God has kept His promise. And every time my husband tells me how much my tasks mean to him, I feel even more powerfully that this is where I am supposed to be for now. But, oh, how Proverbs 31:27 is soooooo true!!

There are some days when I become idle and I allow the enemy in. If I don’t keep busy, he is right there in my ear telling me what a failure I am. How a real woman would go out and get a job. How the world would see this role as quitting or giving up…idleness is surely not my friend right now. But each and every day, I feel a shift in my heart. I feel closer to God and can hear His voice. And the self-forgetfulness is so fulfilling. Because everyday I wake up thinking “How can I help my husband today? What can I do that would please him? What deeds would God be pleased with today?”.

I am still struggling with society’s view on this new role I’ve taken on. When people ask “What are you doing? Have you found a job yet?” I still want to shrink away because I know they won’t understand. I don’t want to expose something precious to me only to have someone else dismiss it as nothing..so I still care what the world thinks. I am working on it though. God is moving in me. This is by far the hardest lesson I’ve ever had to learn. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do…giving up who I think I should be to become who God needs me to be. I am a work in progress, but it gets better everyday.

If you are a housewife or stay-at-home mom, feel free to comment on your thoughts. I would love to chat with others in this role. Thank you for reading, and no matter where you are in life I hope that your heart is light and full of peace. Our God loves us with an everlasting love…

Love you.

PS. If you’d like to see snippets of my every day life, you can find me on Instagram.

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