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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

All wrapped up...in me

I will be the first one to tell you that I struggle with thinking of others first. As a matter of fact - I drive myself insane when I see how many times the conversation turns to something about me. I do it all the time. It's annoying.


But I have also noticed that I have a need to let others know I identify with what they are going through. Maybe not in the same way - but something I have gone through gives me an inkling of what they might be going through. I state it in either my post or conversation. But I have often wondered how helpful that really is. Is it truly just another way for me to talk about myself? Or - am I truly trying to help out? Is that me trying to be empathetic?

That got me to thinking about the two things. Narcissism and empathy.

If narcissism is excessive self love and empathy is the identifying with the thoughts and feelings of someone else...can empathy be a vehicle for the narcissism? A kind of closet narcissism?

I am sure we can make a vehicle out of anything to excuse our self-indulgence. Me in particular. But - I want to be more aware of how I live my life.

I have been thanking God in particular for a new revelation. I need a job. I have applied for two. I have heard nothing yet. It is getting to the point where I may need to put in for jobs less likely to make money and make me content. But we do what we have to. So of course in my seeking - I have been praying, asking God to guide and to protect and to make us content....but please help us with expenses. And then I find myself saying - if we had money, we could finally fix this and finally do this...the list is endless. And one day I realized that everything I wanted was selfish.

Of course we need money - but we could do with less to serve others. I wish I wanted money to serve others better. So I have asked God to change my heart. Make me more aware of others needs and how I can help - in a personal way. But I am so happy I finally SAW that. I thank God - of course realizing it is the first step to fixing it! Or making it better anyway.

So - back to my confusion - am I doing the same thing with my empathy? Am I being selfish?

Of course there is no one I love better than myself. But I want to be more like Jesus...

Philippians 2:
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

What an amazing son God has. I pray that as a daughter of the King that I too can call upon the added strength and desire to be that selfless. I know it is a process and that I will never see it happen fully in this life - but I pray I see it get better. I pray that God gives me the desire, the energy, the eyes to see how to help others better. Sacrificial love is no small feat. But I would love to see that in me.

But then - I get confused again. Pray for direction. discernment. determination.

God willing it will be so.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

How's your heart, buddy?

I took one of the twinks with me to Wal-mart today. He wanted a new basketball and his dad said he had to go if he wanted it. He didn't want me picking out one and then the 3 boys complaining about it. This way- whatever we got - it was all on them. The catch was this was my two week trip. I shop for our entire two weeks of meals and it can be a bit grueling to go on a Saturday. But he said he would go.

What a sweet boy. He pushed the cart and never complained once. He was happy and helpful and I loved being able to spend that time one on one with him.

We saw some friends from a travel ball team we had previously been on. The history here is he was asked to be on this travel ball team last Spring and at the end of the season, it dissolved. The coach got a promotion at his job and said one of the other coaches could pick it up if they wanted to, but we never heard anything so we assumed that was the end of it.

Then my boy came home from school telling me that one of the boys on the team said they were starting it back up. He asked me if we had heard anything and I had to tell him no. Apparently we weren't going to be asked to be on this new team. Of course - my first reaction was not the best reaction. Thankfully it was all in my head and heart but I just told my son not to worry about it. We have always enjoyed park ball and love the comeraderie there.

I kept hearing of the kids that would be on the team. In our community, it is hard not to hear of what is going on - we are a pretty close group and it is bound to come to our attention. I have to say my heart felt pretty pounded. Of course it was for my boy. My feelings were shredded over how he felt and how he was dealing with it. But the issue was never with him, I found. It was totally me. He told our friends there at Wal-mart what team he was on at the park and we wished them well and went our way. I was concerned.

I asked my son how his heart was. "How do you feel about the travel ball team with all of the folks you played with starting up and you not being asked?" He shrugged his shoulders and said, "I am happy to be playing with my friends at the park". I asked him how he thought our reaction to this kind of situation should be. He said, "I have just been glad to be able to play ball again".

What a treasure he is. Apparently - if he was struggling with his identity in all of this - he has come to a healthy conclusion. It has nothing to do with what you are missing. It has everything to do with your thankfulness for what you have. I actually think we are right where we are supposed to be. I have warred with my feeling of being left out - of not being good enough - of our identity in the midst of all of this. This is not a terrible thing. As long as we come to the conclusion of how blessed we are to be where we are.

It is a wonderful lesson. Our identity has nothing to do with who chooses us to be on their team. It has nothing to do with whether other folks think we are good enough, or have enough money. It has to do with the fact that we are the children of God. Thankful hearts and contentment come from being thankful for what you have and whose you are. For those who know me well - I am ridiculously competitive. It is a wretched fight I have with myself constantly over my wanting to be the best - at whatever - and of course that spills over to my poor children. So being here - for now - is a big deal for me.

We love our friends on the travel ball teams. We think the world of them. The internal struggle of not measuring up can strike us at any time and cause us all kinds of resentment. Thank the Lord that he has given us (me) the gumption to come down to what is really most important here.

I'd say my little boy is quite the wise man. My heart is exceedingly glad.