I just posted a comment that made me think I should really put it out here as a post. A few weeks ago I wrote about my Aunt Susie "requesting" her cup of coffee first thing in the morning. It was a simple request, it was a polite request, and it was not a difficult request. Yet, everything in me grimaced at the thought of catering to her selfish desire to have things done her way, by me.
It was the perfect picture of what that entire week-and-a-half was for me. It was me seeing me full-face in the mirror and getting a view of my heart. It was me hearing me as I tell my children to love one another, even if they seem unlovable. It was me having to answer to me as I claim to desire to love as Christ loves and profess a desire to live as Christ lived. He wrapped a towel around his waist, took up a basin, knelt before 12 men and washed their dirty feet, just hours before they abandoned him and he was led to his death. He even washed the feet of the one who betrayed him. And I grimaced about a cup of coffee.
It wasn't really the coffee that was a problem, it was the serving and the expectation of the one making the request. It was me not wanting to be controlled or perhaps lowered to that position. It's easy to get a cup of coffee when I want to do it. I can make a cup for my husband and hand it to him with all of my love along with it. But, I'm not really serving him if I'm just doing what I want when I want because I want. It's especially easy if doing something for him is a surprise or he hasn't requested it. I get the pleasure of seeing the appreciation on his face. I get the pleasure of his gratificaton. I am the benefactor.
But Christ called me to serve others for His sake, not for my sake. He told me to put my own needs aside and look to the needs of others. I realized over my ten days of trial that it won't always mean I do what is asked of me, but I will not refuse to do it out of spite or personal frustration. I got a lot of requests tossed my way--a really, really lot! I struggled with that. I knew immediately that I was dealing with a confrontation of my own nature and my heart. When frustration welled up in me I knew right away that there was no need for it and that my frustration stemmed from a lack of love. God called me to serve for his sake. If I'm frustrated with serving it is not really because I lack love for the one needing/asking to be served, but it is a lack of love for my Lord, because of an abundance of love for myself.
I found that I really was too full of myself to fully lay aside my needs--not just the need to sit down, have a minute to myself, get my own meal, etc., but my need to not be needed! I became overwhelmed with the neediness and demands for attention yet I never considered the great need I have that God satisfies every time I ask and seek for Him. He never turns me away, and He tells me to be like Him.
God doesn't always give me what I want or think I need. Part of His loving and serving me is leaving me to learn and grow through trials. In the same way, I don't always have to give when the one asking needs to learn to wait, do without, or do for themselves. But what got me was how hard it was for me to maintain a loving spirit and attitude. I realized that I rely too much on what I can do without seeking to be filled with Christ to get through each day and each moment--trial or not.
I heard a very brief snippet of a message on the radio yesterday. I didn't recognize the speaker but what he said really applied to me. He said that what comes out of us when we're under pressure is what is really in us. When our buttons are pushed and we react with anger, frustration, and bitterness it exposes a heart that's full of anger, frustration, and bitterness. A heart full of love, grace, and peace will, when tested and tried, come forth with love, grace, and peace.
I saw things in my heart that I didn't like and I'm thanking God for putting me in a situation that allowed me to see how much I am in constant need of a change of heart.