Good Morning Ladies!
After a weekend spent celebrating our Savior giving away His life for sinful people like us, I can think of no better intro to our week than modeling after our Jesus, and giving our own lives away. I don’t think this is an easy topic for anyone. It is not inherently in our nature to want to lay ourselves down and serve someone else but over and over again we are called to do it anyways. (Both in scripture and in life.)
In John 15:13 Jesus tell us, “Greater love hath no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
Love held Jesus on the cross. Love laid down His life to restore our relationship with God. And it is love that compels us to lay aside ourselves, our comfort, and our free time. It is love that drives us to lay down our lives and do for someone else. As godly women (and men), wives, mothers, sisters and friends- we are called to give our life away.
I feel the need to put in a brief disclaimer or “cushion” here. This is not intended to offend anyone. My hope is to encourage us, as Christians, to model the example God called us to. I am not insisting for anyone to remain in an abusive relationship, to say “yes” to everything, or to disregard your emotions in a situation. I am instead insisting that we call on God and His plan in every circumstance rather than relying on ourselves, some modern mantra, or a self help book.
The photographs used are also intended to share a variety of past and present snapshots of life. From beautiful moments to difficult moments, because in life we experience them all as we learn to lay ourselves down.
The Current Culture of Self
We live in a selfish society. We are constantly hearing on every side advice of how to live YOUR best life. If it disturbs your inner peace, get rid of it. Someone in your family is toxic- write them off. Your job doesn’t appreciate you for how wonderful you are- leave it. Rid yourself of anything and everything that doesn’t sing praises to you or make you feel like a queen. You deserve nothing less.
I’m about to step on some toes here, but I think this needs to be said. Some of the above statements have some truth in them, as all the best lies do. There may be a time when God calls us to cut ties with family members. Or to walk away from a job. Or to walk away from friendships laced with gossip or disrespect for the sake of more peace. But who are you serving here? Did God call you to write off that Uncle who is battling addiction or did you do that because you are tired of feeling hurt by his bad decisions?
The Longterm Effects of Selfishness
This is a hard pill to swallow, for myself included. But this is the truth of the matter. When we build our culture around selfish ideas, we create a safe place for us that harms those around us. (And us too, eventually.)The greatest example of this is the abortion industry. We have built up a mindset that anything that doesn’t serve us, harms us. Under this mindset, a precious baby in a woman’s belly becomes a symbol of sickness, pain, bank account drain, and a stumbling block for reaching her full potential.
There are articles praising women who chose abortion. People who make claims like “because of abortion, I won this award, filmed this movie, or was able to tour with my band.” It’s now a brave and glorious thing to shout your abortion. How did we go from safe, legal, and rare to my body, my choice? (Not that either is justifiable.) We are a selfish society.
From Narcissism to Motherhood in Nine Months Flat
When I had my first son, who was the beautiful result of an unplanned pregnancy, I struggled so much with giving my life away. I had never really seen myself as selfish, but I valued my alone time. Sleeping, showering, going to the bathroom, went from essentials to luxuries! I was sore, living in a body I didn’t recognize, learning to breastfeed, and struggling with this new weight of motherhood. I felt so alone in the beginning. My life had went from me being in charge, to a screaming infant running the show entirely.
There was one night where my husband let me go out for a few minutes by myself. I had never felt so free! The music didn’t have to be a certain volume. I didn’t have to rush to eat. There was no one demanding I feed them, rock them, or pull over and comfort them. I found myself again for a few minutes that night and I was overjoyed. This time I wasn’t going to go home and feel discouraged and alone- I was the mom and I was going to be the boss!
I flung open the front door upon arriving home with this new found confidence. You could have heard my bubble literally burst as I stood in the front door way looking over a kitchen with every cabinet open and their contents spilled everywhere. Isaiah was screaming in Rafael’s arms. Rafael was distraught and rummaging through cabinets looking for Ibuprofen for his headache from Isaiah’s screaming.
It was then that I realized, this was my life now. It wasn’t about me anymore. I had twenty self-serving years, and they ended when two little lines showed up on a pregnancy test.
The Burden of Blessings
Babies are hard work. Children are hard work. They demand more of you than you have to give. With each new little life that has entered our home, I feel the burden. I wonder how thin I can spread myself. I worry that I am not giving enough to each one individually. Often I wonder if I am even able to handle another.
But when I am blistered and it is time for another feeding. When my body gives out but there is one more push needed to deliver the baby. Those nights when I can no longer hold my eyes open but big eyes are still staring up at me. When I come to the end of myself, this is where we lay down our lives.
This is when we push past the pain, push past our own needs and desires, our dreams, hopes and plans, and we live for someone else. We lay down our lives because there is no greater love than this.
Take Up Your Cross
No one ever said this would be easy. Having a baby is self sacrificing. Caring for a loved one at the end of their life is self sacrificing. Watching someone battle addiction is self sacrificing. Walking in faith when you can’t see the end of the road is self sacrificing.
In Matthew 16:24 Jesus tells His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
Jesus tells us to deny ourselves. When was the last time you heard that message preached in our culture? He tells us to take up our cross..
Think about Jesus carrying that cross up the hill. He carried His own death bed up to the place where He would be nailed to it.
Do we carry our own cross?
Who does our life- our finances, our dreams, desires, future plans- who does it revolve around?
Jesus or Ourselves.
There is no mutual exchange in life. Everything is either honoring to God and what He has called us to or it is for ourselves. You cannot serve both God and Man (God and self)- who are you serving?
Living Against the Grain
How do we live this out practically? We can’t literally die everyday, and yet Paul says “I die daily”. What does this look like in our day to day life?
This not a call to never rest. In fact, Jesus offers us rest. But so often I hear these statements about how you need to put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else with theirs. (In reference to being on an airplane) How we need to stop at two kids so that we don’t end up overwhelming ourselves with responsibility. How we need time to take care of ourselves and hygiene and grocery shopping alone are not breaks.
There is some truth again in all of that. Perhaps we have taken on things or jobs we aren’t called to do, perhaps our decisions have caused us to walk through hard waters. I definitely have made some of those decisions on my own before. But what if we lived life like Jesus?
What if we looked more like Jesus? What if we, as the women and mothers bringing up future generations, laid down our lives to focus less on ourselves and more on aiming the children we are bringing up?
In Light of Eternity
What if we were willing to die in our efforts to save others? I would happily give my last breath to see that all four of my babies had their oxygen masks on correctly. What if we spent our life bringing up a house full of children? If all we ever are on this Earth is a mom giving away her life to her babies, is that a wasted life? What if all our alone time is interrupted, what if our mind never rests, what if we are poured out repeatedly and never feel filled? Well then, we will hear “Well done.”
Our lives on earth are mere vapor in the grand scheme of things. There is so much more waiting ahead of us. If we focus on Christ and our eternity spent with Him, our lives should look different. The gospel should be present on our lips, our hands bent towards serving, our lives laid down over and over again that others might see Jesus in us.
There is rest, peace, and endless joy at the end of the journey and all along the way, if you know how to look for it. It isn’t found in our alone times, binge watching Netflix, or putting yourself first. Real life begins when you lay yours down.
So ladies, prepare another meal that no one says thank you for. Wash the kitchen sink out, rock the baby back to sleep for the third time, set aside your important work and play hide and seek with your kids. Call your neighbor who is often rude to you and invite them over for dinner. Be patient with the store clerk that is taking too long to ring up your groceries. And if I could encourage you, as someone who has been there before- if you are dealing with an unplanned pregnancy- keep it. The blessing far outweighs the burden. Lay down your life.
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.…” Matthew 16:25
“I was called to give my life instead of keep it. Gotta leave behind my sin if I want to follow Jesus. In our weakness is where the gospel meets us the beauty of redemption revealed in our broken pieces”-Beautiful Eulogy, Mosaic
Happy Laying Down Your Life!
For more encouragement on Giving Your Life Away, check out this video by Elizabeth Elliot.