Where I’ve been…dying to self

I haven’t been writing much lately. I’m trying to be true to my ideals. As much as I want to spend time writing it falls further down on my list of priorities. The challenge I face is that writing and other activities I enjoy are higher up on the list of things I want to do but not necessarily among the things that I need to do during this season of my life. Therein lies one of my daily struggles; to die to myself and some of my desires in order to humbly and unselfishly serve my family and fulfill my vocation as a wife and mother.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and I am so grateful to be home with my girls and to be homeschooling Claire. But the other side of that coin is the sacrifice that comes with being home all day with an almost four year and almost six year old. It is not the most intellectually stimulating time in my life. Just to be clear, I am not “unhappy” or “unfulfilled;”  I’m just human and sometimes I like to do what interests me most instead of doing what I’m called to do. Consequently, remaining true to my ideals can be a challenge. It means dying to self when self is in opposition to what I’ve been called to do and the internal direction of the Holy Spirit. For me that means sometimes doing the “mundane” when I want to do what is exciting and interesting. It means sitting on the floor playing with  Barbie dolls with Ella or using poker chips to play a counting game wth Claire when I’d rather sit at my computer and write or practice playing the guitar. It also means a host of other things in my life.

Almost two years ago a friend sent me a meditation on “dying to self.” It seems like God continually brings me back to this meditation. I know he’s trying to remind me that growing in grace and maturing in him is not about “self-fulfillment” or about what I want but about being like Jesus and dying to my flesh. This is the way of the cross. It is the way of humility and it stands in stark contrast to way of the world that tells you to do what you want when you want because it pleases you most. Everytime I read this meditation  I am humbled because I see how far I have to go in my faith journey.

There is not a single area of my life that I do not struggle in some way with selfishness and pride and this meditation reminds me of that. Like my need to bite my tongue and withhold my opinions — the world can live with one less opinon from me. Or, not complaining about having to wait too long for someone to do something they’ve promised to do. Or, reaching out to someone on whom I have no real desire to spend my time. Or seeking to be “unseen” in ministry opportunities instead of seeking the visible roles that receive more glory and attention.

O how very weak I am. I thank God for his mercy and abundant grace. That is why I run to the table to meet with my Jesus every chance I get. What a gift his presence is. In his presence I am changed and I desparately need him to transform me into his image. My “self,” my flesh only produces death. I need the life that his word says is available in his body and blood. I desire to remain in him, not in the flesh. And so I find myself at his table as often as possible: “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me” (John 6:55-56).  When I remain in him and I am filled with his life I am able to stay true to my ideals and to be who He has called me to be. And I am able to die to self.

I’ve shared this “Dying to Self” meditation with a number of people over the last couple of years. I do not know who wrote it. Over time I’ve added things to it as they’ve applied to my own struggles with “self.” I thought I’d share the meditation on this blog as well. But before you read it consider yourself forewarned: Your flesh will not like it…

*** 

DYING TO SELF… 

When you are forgotten, neglected, or purposely provoked and you don’t sting and dwell on the hurt, the insult or the oversight, but your heart is at peace, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ

THAT IS DYING TO SELF.

When your good is spoken of as evil, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, when you reach out and the door is closed in your face and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take it all in patience and with love

THAT IS DYING TO SELF. 

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any impunctuality, any interruption or any annoyance; when you stand face-to-face with folly, wastefulness, spiritual insensibility and endure it as Jesus endured

THAT IS DYING TO SELF. 

When you are content with any food, any offering, any climate, any people, any clothing, any shelter

THAT IS DYING TO SELF. 

When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good words and when you can truly love to be unknown

THAT IS DYING TO SELF. 

When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met and you honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances

 – THAT IS DYING TO SELF. 

When you can receive correction, reproof, encouragement, advice or exhortation from “one of less stature than yourself “and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart

 – THAT IS DYING TO SELF. 

Dear Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bring me to a place of humility before the cross so that I willingly die to myself in order that I may live in, with and through you alone . Amen.

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3 Responses to Where I’ve been…dying to self

  1. timglass says:

    That is a meditation I need as well. I’ll be visiting this post over and over and over again. Thanks for sharing it here.
    Tim

  2. vimnjicki says:

    I was looking for any response that is more current than sept. ’07. I wonder about progress on this road of dying to self and the pursuit of Jesus. I am realizing, amidst the daily rush, that I must have Him as either Someone tangible or I must understand more the truly overwhelming reality that the spiritual world is more real and infinitely more permanent and significant than the “tangible” world has, is or can ever be. I get glimpses once in awhile during devotions and worship, but there is always something obscuring the view. “Now we see darkly. as in a glass…” Still, I want more.

  3. Amy says:

    Seems like everyday is about dying to myself and my attachments to this world and my own ways of thinking. Some days the call to die to self is easier while other days, weeks and even months dying to self is so very painful. My progress sometimes seems so slow.

    I’m in a painful season right now. God is asking me to lay down one of the deepest desires of my heart and my flesh is fighting it. I’m realizing that I’m not good at “suffering.” I’m not good at letting go of my attachments to this world and what i want.

    I struggle with living in this temporal and tangible life and living with an eternal perspective. I see with temporal eyes more often than eternal. But I have hope that as each day passes I will place less and less significance on “my plans” for this temporal life and find more and more joy in what I cannot see but I hope is to come.

    For me the gift of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist bridges that gap between this temporal, tangible world and the spiritual and eternal reality of who I am in Christ. My pastor talks often about how when we celebrate the Eucharist we enter into God’s eternal time. Christ becomes tangible as a gift to us who are living in this temporal world. He comes to increase our faith, give us life, forgive us and to remind us of the eternal in the midst of our limited and temporal existence on earth. I know that not everyone believes in Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist as Catholics believe. But for me this is God’s sacramental way of reaching us where we are (in the tangible) and helping us to see him a little more clearly while we wait for the day that we see him face to face. I suppose that is one of the many reasons I run to the table as often as possible. While I meet with Him at the table He transforms me and I am able to die to myself a little more each day so that He can live in and through me.

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