Last week I ended up being very disappointed. I had my heart set on something that just didn't work out. I made plans in my head. I got excited. It was one of those things that I may never get the chance to do again, so I really, really, really wanted to do it.
I psyched myself up by convincing myself that it was something that I needed, something that would make me a better person, something that would refresh and renew me and enable me to face the world again with more vigor and vitality.
Yes, it would cost me time, money, and extra effort but I reasoned that it would be worth every sacrifice required.
I lived in denial right up until the very last minute. So why didn’t I go through with it?
Well, it turns out, I don’t live in this world alone. Whether I like it or not, my life affects other people.
The money I would have spent, the time I would have used, and the effort I would have had to put forth would have served only me. Not only that, the cost in time, money, and effort would have been shared and shouldered by the others who needed me to be doing something else other than enjoying my own personal retreat. I have a boss and a board at work depending on me. My husband, even though he is always up for an adventure, would have suffered a schedule squeeze. My friends and accountability partners would have missed me at our weekly get-together. The things I usually work on for the Sunday morning worship would have been thrown together in haste. And let’s not even talk about the housework, laundry, and groceries.
I know I need a break from those things every now and then in order to maintain sanity. It just got me to thinking, and eventually convicted, about how much of what I do is purely for selfish reasons.
I tell myself that if I do certain things just for me, then I’ll be better able to help and serve others. The truth is, once I’ve experienced the personal satisfaction of whatever it was, I dwell on it and think about it long after the event is over. I think about how wonderful it was. I talk about what great fun it was or how meaningful it was to me.
Me. Me. Me.
The one thing I use more than anything to justify my actions is my own personal need. And they certainly need justifying because often they are so flimsy that they can’t stand on their own.
I need a nap (Never mind that I stayed up late watching TV).
I need a break (Never mind that I haven’t really accomplished anything all day).
I need a raise ( Never mind that I didn’t save a single cent from last week’s paycheck).
I need some new shoes (Never mind that I have a 3-tier rack full in my closet).
Those “never mind” things are the things I never let my mind think about.
Oh, I’m so tired of thinking about myself, because you know what? I’m not really all that exciting. There are much more interesting people in this world. I think I should like to think about them more.
Never mind me.
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:1-4