"It's getting harder and harder for me to give," I confessed to myself. Clayton and I sat across the table from a couple who needed a listening ear. We listened while they talked. We comforted them through their struggles and tears. I was obeying my calling to ministry, but my inner soul wished I could be the one talking and crying.
It was in this moment I realized how dry and empty my own soul felt. I'd just become a mother, and it was proving harder than I thought. Because I didn't love my new calling, I was carrying far too much shame and guilt. I was desperate for help myself. Still, I sat listening and praying to the only One who could help these people because I felt completely incapable.
Clayton and I often entered the next life stage before our group of friends because we were a bit older than them. I was tired of being first. Tired of going through something before everyone else. Tired of being the trailblazer. Tired of not having anyone to lean on, but being there for everyone else. And motherhood was a challenge I wasn't handling well.
A week later, I tried to lean on a friend for strength. "I just wish someone could serve me sometime," I cried to her in desperation. She responded, "You know that's not how the Christian life works Sharie. We're called to serve."
Here's my interpretation of what she said, "Pick up your bootstraps and stop feeling sorry for yourself." In that vulnerable moment, I needed understanding not idealism. So I rashly cut her off emotionally. I put up a wall. In fact, I put a lot of walls up with people. I was looking for someone who would let me fall apart, to be vulnerable and honest with instead of being "the pastor's wife." But I didn't feel like I'd find anyone. So, I retreated into myself.
This situation, and my reaction to it, was the first time I noticed my tendency to protect myself by retreating into isolation. Withdrawing from people seemed safer than trying to trust. But it wasn't. It was a tool that led me deeper and deeper into a propensity to be a victim and to do life alone.
Have you been here?
If so, you may have had a hard time receiving some of my husband's message last Sunday (You Can't Outgive God). If so, I want you to know that I did, too. I realized I didn't want to believe these three things:
- Full is focused on me. Overflow is focused on others.
- When you give good when bad is happening to you, you're sending the message of the gospel to others.
- Forgiveness is a gift we give to people who don't deserve it.
But Jesus showed me: It's hard to give when you're focused on what you might lose, or what you're not getting. When I'm afraid to lose, I'm not focused on the Giver.
When Jesus gave his life on the cross, He prayed, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." He had a deep understanding of our tendency to take. He knew we'd have a hard time fully appreciating the gift of his sacrifice, so He focused instead on the Giver. His motivation was obedience and love to His Father who never runs dry. Jesus' ability to give His life flowed from the Father, who gave His One and Only Son! The Father's overflow provides the power we need to give to each other.
So, sitting in my seat Sunday, and even now, I pray three things for you:
- I pray you will know Jesus is living life with you. I pray you won't be afraid (like me) to let Jesus overflow through you into people's lives no matter how weak you feel. I pray fear won't keep you from the goodness Jesus wants to bring your way through other people. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
- I pray you'll have faith to give goodness when bad knocks at your door. I pray you'd learn how to love people, even in your hurt, so you can find the fellowship described in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
- I pray you will have strength to to forgive those who don't understand they're affecting you by committing your emotions to the Giver of life. (Luke 23:34-46)
And finally I pray, "The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all." 2 Timothy 4:22
© 2016 by Sharie King. All rights reserved.