I have such a hard time with my sin, sometimes… Not necessarily “wrestling” with it, because I often don’t get that far. It’s more “identifying” it. Prideful, you say? Yes. Much pride. The roots of justification and avoidance of blame run so deeply in me that I get into so much chaos and trouble from it. I don’t want to be in this darkness, and I think I’m learning (ever so slowly) to be able to examine my conscience better than three years ago when I converted. I mean, just recognizing that I have THIS problem is progress…I think. Reading “True Devotion to Mary” (SUCH a good read!) is really helping me right now, and I wanted to share some parts that pierced my heart. It began with a verse.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24
We must die to ourselves like the wheat that falls into the earth. We don’t just die, but we die to bear fruit. And this isn’t talking about literal death as I always thought as a child, but rather “dying to yourself.” That’s a heavy bit right there, wouldn’t you say? But it goes on to say:
He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.”John 12:25
So we have to die to ourselves, and we have to hate our life. I’ve always had these verses thrown around since I was a little girl by those around me, but I’m not sure I ever really took them into understanding. I think I always thought, “if you enjoy your life, you don’t truly hate it.”
But these verses recently came into the light for me, and some of that darkness of justification was pulled back a little bit. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your life… Focusing on that first part of the verse, I realized that I love my life too much. I love my WILL. I have so much self love. I have PRIDE. I love my pride. So when really thinking about this verse the other day, the part that says, “He who loves his life” looks in my life like “love of my will/pride.”
When I try to have good fruit… When I try to be virtuous, it is tainted by my loving of my life! It’s not enough to just try to be good. To try to be virtuous! I mean, I can do that all day long, but then, I might go on my merry way thinking, “I’m so glad I’ve sacrificed such and such to help so and so, they really need ME.” and my unselfish acts turn into selfish acts! We all know people like that, don’t we… I don’t want to be that way! How horrible that I’ve often let the good work that God could have done through me, for others, and for my own sanctification turn into something evil and tainted!
Are there any FRIENDS lovers out there? Non fans, feel free to skip this paragraph! Do you remember that episode where Phoebe is trying to do an unselfish good deed but can’t find one? Everything she does, Joey tells her is ultimately selfish because she feels good about it. She rakes a lawn, and gets “force fed” cider and cookies! She donates money, and it gets her friend on TV, and it finally progresses to a point where she lets a bee sting her…a ludicrous idea, to try to do something really unselfish. The problem that Phoebe faced was not in the act itself as she and Joey thought… It was in her heart and attitude. Obviously, the six characters on FRIENDS are depraved and have no thoughts whatsoever of living a life for God. But if they did, well, Phoebe might have realized that her pride was getting in the way of fulfilling an unselfish deed. To truly be selfless, we must live for God, and do all unto Him, knowing that we are nothing!
I have to recognize that my sin (in the form of pride and self love/vanity) is getting in the way, and then I have to release it. Easier said than done… In fact, these are realizations I have to actually REMIND myself of multiple times a day, so that I can try to let go of the pride and grab on to humility.
I want to die to myself and live for God. I want to be used by Him and only for Him, and through Him. I want to live in virtue and let it pour out to others. But to do that, I have to hate my life. I have to hate what it is and has been: My Pride. My Will. My Desire. I have to let it become a life of humility and obedience.
What does this look like, practically… It looks like patience with my husband. It looks like respect and gratitude for all that he does, and not expectation that he must do more. It looks like letting him live his life and not trying to control all the parts of it because I might “do it better.” What pride to think that I should have that kind of power… It looks like obedience to do all of those things when it’s really hard.
Let me be a grain of wheat. Nothing on my own. Let me be small, and insignificant. Let me die and be sown. Let humility water me and obedience direct me into the light of the Lord.