|Photo image courtesy of John Bailey via 123rf.com|
And he who waters will also be watered himself.
Last week, I once again found myself at the end of my rope. Huge bills were long overdue. Two of my three "chronic kids" were due for appointments that would get us nowhere fast. Things were hitting a wall at work. All I wanted to do was find some relief.
When you are in the place I was, you will find no one who thinks it's a good idea to go serve other individuals. After all, when a person is completely poured out, there is nothing left to give. It is time to be recharged and renewed, not a time to replenish others. Yet, I was scheduled to go do just that. For weeks I had on my calendar a time to visit some women living nearly 60 miles away to discuss how we might work together for the benefit of other parents. Knowing that this was an important opportunity, I refused to cancel or reschedule.
God blessed that time through a major shift of perspective.
First off, the drive was a great reprieve. I was able to enjoy a sunny Autumn day, driving through the rolling countryside, drinking in the beauty of nature without once hearing, "Mom! Mommy! Mama! Mom! Mom! Mom!" That uninterrupted time allowed me great fellowship with the Father, a gift I hadn't been afforded in weeks. I could share my heart with the Lord for hours! It was almost like a mini-retreat.
Second, my time with these women allowed me to step out of my own world and fully engage in theirs. Suddenly, it wasn't about me or my troubles. Entering into the life of another forced me to exit my own circumstances, even if only temporarily. In discussing their challenges, mine shrank.
I was especially blessed by being fully present to one mother, asking her to share her parenthood story with me. As I listened to every detail of her journey, I could imagine what it would be like to face some of the incredible hurdles she has faced as she has walked in obedience to God. The compassion I already had for her in my heart grew tenfold.
As we talked through life's troubles together out loud with kids swirling in the background, the laughter resonated beyond the building we occupied. It was the humor of knowing... the wisdom of shrinking life's incredible injustice by turning it on its head with whimsy.
The gift of one another... laughing... knowing... there to strengthen each other... problem-solving out loud together was soul-filling to the toes.
I left later than I expected, without regret. A trip where I thought I was going to have more demanded of me had actually poured more into me. I received the gift of getting over myself.
In isolation, where way too many of us dwell, it is merely a matter of course that we become hyperfocused on ourselves and our own problems. I am not exempt. I have an office alone with no other coworkers present, and despite being in touch with people across the nation all day every day, I typically sit in that same environment without change. That only fuels the oppression of my life's challenges. It makes it hard to see my way out.
Yet, getting my mind off myself all those hours by changing location, listening fully to others, and focusing on their needs left me utterly filled to overflowing. As I drove the 60 miles back home, I praised God for the unexpected refreshment. I returned completely refreshed, with a brightened spirit, and have remained living above my depression since. That event only serves as confirmation of CS Lewis' convicting words, "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less."
PRAY: LORD, the last thing I am thinking about when I am hurting is being humble. Tenderly guide me through the pain of dying to self. Jesus, thank You for the awesome gift of salvation, for You are the One who shows us that it is in dying that we are given the greater gift of eternal joy.
~ Barb Dittrich