A Very Great Struggle

We have frequently sung this wonderful hymn: "Father I Know that All my Life" at FPC. I have grown to love this song and one line that our pastor frequently points out is this:

A life of self-renouncing love
is one of liberty.

Yikes. Stab me in the heart there. From the first night we held little J in our arms and continuing onward, I have struggled so hard with selfishness, with giving up my wants, my desires. I remember being awake in the middle of the night--in our hospital room--trying to nurse J and wanting to go to sleep. I looked over at my husband who was peacefully snoring away and I wanted more than anything to KICK him. Yes, it took my all to not kick my sleeping husband.

It was something to grapple with before kids, but on a MUCH lesser scale. Sure, I often had to struggle to put my needs aside for Tuan's or during camp there would be times where I struggled with giving up my wants. On a daily basis, however, I was pretty much on my own and dwelling in comfortable solitude and self-indulgence. Now, hourly I am pulled in many directions. From the moment my eyes open until my head hits the pillow (and often many times after) someone, somewhere in this house is needing me, wanting me, calling me.

Life with three is not as hard as it could be. I am thankful for "schedules" and fairly content children. But it is hard. Housework is unending. Little souls need their love buckets filled, their needs met--and they don't observe the clock. Some days I desperately crave sleep and it doesn't happen. Yesterday was one of them. I had just fallen asleep for that Sacred Sunday nap and J came in our room and woke me up. I was ugly, impatient and sent him back to his room. At that point, sleep was over, but an ill spirit and sinful attitude were just beginning.

Do you ever just want to wallow in your self-pity, anger and sinfulness? I do.

By God's grace, I decided to get up and take J for a walk so Tuan could have some peace and quiet. We went over to camp and played and walked and explored for well over an hour. It was so much fun and refreshing--and he NEEDED that quality time.

A life of self-renouncing love is one of liberty.

I think this is going to be a life-long lesson--one that constantly unfolds.

When I was a counselor we had one evening off a week. It lasted about four hours and that was our only off-time. When our activity ended and our campers were at the tree house we were free to go. I, however, worked at the ropes course--which never ended on time and I was a tractor driver. I remember one evening I was ferrying kids from the ropes course and literally seeing my off-time dwindle away with each trip. On the way back to ropes I was thinking about how much of MY time was diminishing and like a bolt of lightning it hit me: IT WAS NEVER "MY" TIME IN THE FIRST PLACE. All that I was, all that I possessed belonged to God (including my time). Realizing that was absolutely liberating. I couldn't be selfish with my time because it didn't belong to me to begin with. It belonged to Him.

It is easy to be free with someone else's possessions, money, time because it is not yours. The same thing applies to us. Our talents, time, things all belong to him and realizing that gives great liberty (and great responsibility). That moment changed me and really affected the rest of my summer--for the good.

I have to constantly re-learn these truths. It is not fun, nor easy, but good.

A life of self-renouncing love is one of liberty . . .


Caroline said...

I remember having the very same lightning bolt realization that summer while hiding in the woods during the counselor hunt (shrinking at the sound of little voices!).

Anna H said...

thanks for this post--it was great lesson and i will be reading it often!