One of the things that will inevitably happen when you make a focused effort to sacrifice on a daily basis is that you start to notice a lot more opportunities around you to do so. And that’s certainly been true for me. Being more conscious about serving others has definitely helped me to identify a lot of different and unique ways to engage and serve other people each day. Which has been great. After all, that’s kind of the point of this whole experiment I’m doing.
However, the alertness that comes with this mindset can have somewhat of a negative effect on your life as well. Because you also start to notice all of the opportunities you had, but didn’t follow-up on to sacrifice something for someone else. You start to notice just how often you truly decide to make yourself the most important person in the world. You start to notice the attitude that arises in your heart when inconvenient circumstances present themselves and all you want to do is run the other way and keep to yourself so as not to be troubled.
In the past week alone I’ve missed several different opportunities that stick out vividly in my mind as I sit to type this post. And I missed them primarily because they would have been inconvenient for me. I drove by a car last Sunday that was stuck in a muddy ditch as three men tried to push it out. It was clear that they could’ve used more manpower. But I wanted to get home and didn’t feel like stripping off muddy clothes upon my arrival. So I drove right by. Good luck fellas. The other night our daughter, Scout, had a high fever and woke up at 2:45 AM and never really fell back asleep. I was dog tired so I rolled over in bed as Haley took the burden (and lost the sleep) of caring for our little girl into the early hours of the morning. Then today, there was a young man walking toward the elevator as I was boarding on my way out at 5:00. I could’ve held the door and waited the couple extra seconds for him, but I didn’t. I was in a hurry to get home and see my family. I hit the button and assumed he could just catch the next one.
I’m not trying to be hard on myself. I know I’m not a ‘bad’ person for missing these opportunities. We all miss them every day, because the truth is we are all somewhat self-absorbed. It’s been tough writing this blog every day because I don’t want to come off like I think I’m some kind of ‘saint’ in this world whose sole purpose is to serve others. The truth is that I know several people, family and friends, who live much more sacrificial lives than I do. Sacrifice and service seems to come natural for them, like it’s just a gift they have. Maybe it is. I wish it were easier for me.
So today, instead of writing about some small sacrifices I’ve made over the past few days, I’m choosing to write about the ones I didn’t make. I don’t know if the world has changed because I missed these opportunities. What I do know is that I continue to struggle with putting myself first, living in a small story that’s about myself, and my happiness, and my preferences, and my needs. This, of course, instead of living in a much larger story about God’s kingdom playing itself out in the world every day, which carries forth as an unstoppable force regardless of whether or not I choose to participate.
I’m going to try to get to bed early tonight, wake up before work tomorrow, and spend some time in prayer before God. I’m going to tell Him that I’m sorry that I continue reverting back to my selfish ways. I’m going to ask for His forgiveness once again, and then I”m going to pray for the strength to live with eyes that are ever cognizant of the epic story of His kingdom playing itself out in countless unseen realities around us every day. And then I’ll thank Him. Because I really want to be a part of that story and I know He’ll bring me right back in the loop. After all, that’s what good fathers do…