Sunday, January 15, 2012

P4E.229 Love = Self Sacrifice Part 6

As I said earlier, I am the last person who should be writing about self sacrificial love, because I have so little experience. What will follow, then, are humble suggestions; a few from my poor experience and some from my imagination.

Let's start our journey towards self-sacrificial love with what you may think is an unusual suggestion: Don't reject helpGraciously accept help from those you love.

You might be thinking, wait, how is it self sacrifice when I do something that benefits me, like accept help? I used to be confused, too. The fact that God knows and values each of us, individually, is not cause to strive for self-sufficiency. If Love = Self Sacrifice, then everything I can do to sacrifice my ego, my individuality, my self sufficiency is practicing love. This suggestion is about coming to the realization that "no man is an island."

I used to be really confused about my Christian vs. my American values. Last night I heard a talk show host say that "individual sovereignty" is the thing that made America great. Individual sovereignty might have made America what it is today, but it's at odds with our ability to express love.Our American culture tells us to strive for individuality, independence and self sufficiency. Our human nature pushes us towards self preservation. So, if we want to learn how to love, we need to do things that will counter those forces. Accepting help from those we profess to love does just that.

Consciously or unconsciously, when I reject help, I'm rejecting the person who is offering it. When I accept help, I'm acknowledging that I need the person who's offering it. I'm allowing that person into my world and my endeavor. We become one in the process of achieving the thing that I'm trying to accomplish. When we are successful, we are able to jointly celebrate. I'm able to acknowledge that the success wouldn't have come without the help.

Not to state the obvious, but God is very wise. He knew we would need help to learn self-sacrificial love. To those of us who are married, God gave us husbands the perfect partner on which to practice. If we can't do this with the person we profess to love more than any other in the world, how can we let others know that we are followers of Christ?

I'll tell you why I used the phrase, "Graciously accept help from those you love." Gwen used to offer me help all the time, which I would routinely reject. What do you think I am? Helpless? Do you think that I can't do this without you? What help do you think you can give me that will benefit this endeavor? Your "help" will actually hinder my accomplishing what I'm trying to do! Then, I would judge the help that Gwen would offer me. I wouldn't even have to say anything. The look on my face, an exasperated sigh, my body language would let her know that her help was not "helpful." It was my perfectionism and critical nature that would push me towards this. Need I tell you that Gwen does NOT feel loved when I act this way? I confess that I still struggle with the concept of graciously accepting help.

And that's the thing I want to re-emphasize! We will not change overnight! It's not about being perfect. It's about striving towards an ideal. It's about having the prize in our sights and making a real, sincere effort to obtain it. Failure is just as instructive, is more instructive than success, if we are willing to learn from our failures. This is where we can accept the help that God has for us. His Spirit is help. Your wife is help. Don't reject them. Let them in. Be one with them. No man is an island.

More to follow...

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