I was asked recently to be one of five women to speak at a Lenten prayer service for women about the Paschal Mystery of Dying to Self. I had a really hard time putting my thoughts together for various reasons, and even when the event came and I got up to speak, I still was a little unsure what exactly I was going to share.
Afterwards, I was politely complimented on what I shared, but even though it was from the heart, it was unpolished and I still felt like God was calling me to put my thoughts together and connect the dots a little more thoroughly, so I spent some more time prayerfully considering this mystery and I’m laying out my additional thoughts today in writing.
Jesus calls us to die to ourselves so that we may have new life in him.
In my own life I have done this in big ways and in small ways. As I was reflecting on this mystery, I started focusing mostly on the big ways.
In becoming a wife, I was called to lay my single self at the foot of the cross and carry the sacrifices that come along with sacramental marriage. In deciding to have children, Mathew and I were called to set aside our own selfish desires (things like free time and sleep) and take on the call of parenthood.
During my pregnancy, I did my best to make choices that would benefit my child. I tried to eat well, avoid taking medicine and drinking alcohol and anything else that could potentially harm my growing baby. I sacrificed my body, handing it over to God so He could create life inside me. I set aside my own personal desires so my body could grow a baby. I continue even after giving birth to make choices to allow me to nurse my baby in a healthy way.
When Jesus calls us to the cross and asks us to lay something down, it’s always in exchange for something greater. Sometimes it’s hard for me to see or understand that in the moment, but it’s always true.
I died to myself to become a Christian. I laid down my singleness in favor of marriage. I laid down my selfishness to receive parenthood. I sacrifice my Wednesday nights in order to attend Bible study and learn about God’s word.
Whenever we give something to God, He makes it better.
The instances in my own personal life where I’ve been called to die to myself have been big choices, but also they’ve been easy choices for me to make. Sometimes God put’s a call on my heart that I can’t say no to. I follow Christ’s call for my life out of love and obedience.
But then I started to think about the little daily calls to die to myself. And that’s where I started to feel selfish and sinful.
Every day Jesus calls me to lay down my fear, anxiety, pride, guilt, etc. We’re called to cast those things off to embrace the fruits of the spirit. It’s a pretty nice trade- all the bad stuff for good fruit.
So often I place my fear at the foot of the cross in the morning. Then I remember I have something going on later that day that I might need that fear for. So I go back and I pick it up again. “It’s okay, Jesus. I forgot I have this phone call to make, and I’m going to need that fear back. I’ll carry this cross today. It will be mine. You can get the next one, promise.”
Whenever I read the Passion I’m disgusted by the mockers and scoffers who spit in the face of Christ. I like to think I wouldn’t be among them. And Peter. How could he have walked with Christ, witnessing miracle after miracle only to deny him three times?
Then I stop and think about what I do every day. Lay something down, pick it back up. If that’s not rejecting Christ’s holy and perfect offering- I don’t know what is.
So often I choose myself over God. My way over His. I want to be holy, set apart, and follow God’s will for my life. Sometimes it feels easy when the big things seem to be checked off… I go to church, attend Bible study, I’m a good wife, a good mother, a pretty decent daughter, sister, friend… but I still get caught up in the minutia of daily life.
I’m so thankful for this season of Lent. I’m thankful for the opportunity to reflect on my shortcomings as a Christian so I can make improvements accordingly. I don’t ever expect to be perfect, and I certainly can’t get there on my own.
I wanted to capture these thoughts to share with you. Maybe you’re going through something similar? Maybe you could use the encouragement that you’re not alone either. But I also wanted to capture these thoughts for my own. I know I’ll want to revisit this in the future. Some of our struggles don’t go away, and I think this is one that will be around for a while.
I have a quote on my lockscreen from C.S. Lewis which is so appropriate for my life, “Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.”
It’s as if Christ knew this would be a struggle when he said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). The call to do this daily isn’t lost on me.
If you have other thoughts, I’d love for you to share in the comments. ♥ Thanks so much for reading this one, I know it’s a slight break away from my usual posts.