Sacrifice and a Selfish Heart

Oh, Valentine’s Day.  You’ve come and gone once again.

Some people love you.  Others hate you.  You have to look no further than a Facebook newsfeed to figure that out.

1. “Singleness Awareness Day.”  I get that.  And though I can’t understand completely, I empathize with you.  When you’re struggling with contentment (as I have SO often over the past 2 years), it’s definitely not helpful having something like a national holiday to remind you of your current plot in life.

2. Wall photos on Facebook.  Need I say more?  Every other item on my news feed was a picture of flowers that were given, a dinner that was made, or a gift that was bought.  Not that those things are bad…and I’m positive that in most of those instances they were put up simply to encourage/brag on spouses or significant others…but am I the only one that sees these seemingly innocent posts as somewhat of a competition?  Hmmm…maybe it’s just me.

3. “I don’t need Valentine’s Day.  It’s just a consumerist holiday.  We need to show each other we love each other every day.”  So true and I completely agree.

But then again…I really, really like Valentine’s Day.

Maybe I just like holidays or excuses to do something special outside of the routine.  Regardless, I look forward to having a day to come up with creative ways to remind those around me that I love them…oh, and to eat chocolate. 😉

Adam and I had enjoyed a quick, little 28 hour getaway the day before (okay, we only went 20 minutes away, and spent next to nothing, but it was pure bliss), so we spent Tuesday focusing on other people.  I planned a whole morning for my 2nd favorite man.

He’s 3 feet fall with a gap between his teeth, gorgeously big blue eyes, a crazy imagination, reminds me that he loves me almost hourly and kisses my hand like a tiny Prince Charming.  And he’s an awesome date.

We had heart shaped french toast for breakfast, a treasure hunt after devotions, snuggling and reading books at Barnes and Noble, games at Chuck E. Cheese’s, and ice-cream at ColdStone.

My afternoon then consisted of getting ready to make a special dinner for some girls from our youth group, complete with flowers, candles, homemade lasagna, chocolate, and time to enjoy each other’s company.

Before you stop reading because you’re either sickened by my ploy for a pat on the back or tempted to make comparisons to yourself, it’s confession time.

I also was (am) horribly selfish.  

Before even making it out the door Tuesday morning, I got impatient with Isaiah moving too slowly and frustrated and critical with my husband over something that wasn’t his fault.  Later while trying to stretch my apron over my 34 week pregnant belly, I lamented over how tired I was and how much there was still left to be done that would go unnoticed and unappreciated.

Ugly.

I wanted so badly for Isaiah to see a purpose behind Valentine’s Day…that’s it’s not just so that someone makes a big deal out of you, but that you make a big deal out of someone else.  I wanted him to WANT to make valentines and a Valentine cookie for someone else.

But he wasn’t in the mood to color.  He had, after all, gotten a new car and book that morning that were way more alluring.  He was super excited about baking the cookie…until I told him that it wasn’t for him and that no, he couldn’t “share it”.

When he realized that he wasn’t getting anything out of the deal, the whole Valentine’s Day thing lost its luster.

I was so frustrated with him and so discouraged by his attitude.  I know he’s only 3, but I at that moment, I so wanted him to be the super sweet boy that he normally is…and understand that the world doesn’t revolve around him.  I wanted him to want to do something for someone else simply out of love for them with no ulterior motives or how it would make him feel.

At least 3 year old’s are honest about their motivations.  Wasn’t I doing the same thing, but masking it under the disguise of sacrifice and thoughtfulness?  Yuck.

I’ve been studying the book of Isaiah and was struck by God’s words in chapter 1…

“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?  I do not delight in them.”

You see, God wasn’t pleased with their sacrifices, because they were done with hearts that had forsaken Him.  The sacrifices were done out of duty rather than obedience and a committed, unadulaterated love for Him that demanded nothing in return.

Almost 6 years ago, Adam and I used these verses as part of our vows to one another…

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:1-5)

Verses that may be easy to read or recite, but much more difficult to live.  And oh, how often I fail.

“We love because He first loved us.”  (1 John 4:19)

Shouldn’t that be motivation enough?  After all, this wasn’t just any kind of love…

“Greater love has no man than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (1 John 5:13)

“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:7-8)

Would I be willing to do that?  For my friends, let alone my enemies?

Again today, God patiently whispers to my heart…

“Whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Perhaps my son will learn to love others more unselfishly if he sees his Mama consistently doing the same.  A sacrificial love that comes as naturally as breathing.  Oh, Father, how badly I want that.

Yesterday, Isaiah was all about Valentine’s Day.  He kept asking…

“You know why you got me this car?  Because you love me!”

And he found the red construction paper hearts that we used as clues for his Valentine’s Day treasure hunt and wanted to give them to his favorite stuffed animals before nap time.  Stuffed animals, after all, couldn’t give him anything in return.  But it didn’t matter. He did it just because he loves them.

In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude as Christ Jesus.

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2 responses

  1. Thank you for the kindness you and Isaiah showed me on Valentines Day. My sweetheart was out of the country. Of course, you knew that. I needed the cookie and wonderfully colored heart that is now on the door of our refrigerator. And, Adam and I enjoyed a wonderful Valentines dinner together at McDonalds with Isaiah. Thanks for the love!

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