I slowly crawled out from the sea of toys crammed into the child-sized, Frozen-themed tent. I was hot, bored, and tired of playing injured animal to my tiny veterinarian daughter. One can only take so many hits to the eye with a stethoscope, Amen?
I was DONE.
The truth is, I am a selfish person. As a mom, I want to play on my terms. As a wife, I want affection on my timeline. As a Christ-follower, I want just enough “God” to fill my needs for that moment.
I choose ME.
To take it a step further, I believe that I want, I “deserve.” Some days it doesn’t matter if others get ignored, hurt or pushed aside for my needs to get met. If I deserve it, I get to have it!
You may push back and say, “Erica, everyone needs to indulge a little! Everyone needs a break from their kids! There are healthy and good pauses in the day, and we ALL need time off.”
I completely agree!
But “boundaries” do not equal “selfishness;” not in the least. When I talk about being selfish, I am not referring to regular “Me Time” or “God Time.” These are healthy, required time-outs in our life to maintain a good relationship with God and our own mental stability.
Selfishness is when we decide the compulsion to follow our own needs overrides our commitment to be the person God wants us to be- whether that is an engaged parent, spouse, employee, or friend.
Shockingly, I have caught myself in this selfish mindset as I discipline my kids.
…If you will quiet your gasps, I will indulge you with my story…
I had a great day with my daughter. We laughed, cuddled, chased and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. Then, as it is with all Threes, things started turning sour for no reason. She started whining and flopping on the floor, something about not liking polka dots. Determined to keep our day positive, I gave her a pep talk and resolved the situation quickly.
(Gold star for me!)
Minutes later, another meltdown. This time over imaginary food.
(Lord, help us.)
Feeling like a professional counselor, I talked her off the ledge and back to the safety of sanity.
(Win #2! I am an AMAZING MOTHER!)
…Then tantrum 3, 4, & 5 followed.
I kept my cool but could feel the tension building.
By the time #6 rolled around, I lost it, yelling at my gremlin of a child, feeling entitled to do so because I “deserved” to let loose. I mean, I had been beyond patient and loving and basically THE BEST MOM EVER up ’til that point! It was almost perfection…
And if I am perfect for outburst 1 through 5, I choose to be selfish for #6.
Where did we get this idea that we can choose selfishness and that it’s okay to do so?
How did the ME become bigger than the WE?
We have cleverly disguised the wolf of selfishness as “self-care” and placed it among the innocent sheep of self-care solutions:
A good night’s sleep. Relaxation. Eating healthy. Screaming at your kid. Exercise.
If only selfishness WAS self-care!
Our selfishness is affecting our husbands, our friends, and how we spend our time.
We feel entitled: “I work hard, therefore I indulge.”
Are you ignoring your kids because you are “over it” and deserve some time to yourself, or because they truly need some quiet playtime?
Are you blowing your budget because you work hard and deserve to spoil yourself?
Are you ignoring intimacy with your husband because you deserve to be in the perfect mood in order to have sex?
Maybe those questions sting a little. And maybe you have a right to feel the way you do. But as Christians, we are always called to put our needs and wants aside. We follow the example Jesus lived, selfless and giving, not selfish and taking. Where in the Bible does it tell us that our needs rise above the needs of others? What verse reads, “Doeth What Thou Wants, Super Mom..?”
Can we all agree to stop being selfish?
Galatians 5:16-18 tells us to:
“Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day.”
We are better than our feelings; better than emotions on any given day!