Last night my sweet little boy had his ninth birthday party. It was a night filled with family, burgers, cake, more noise than our house could hold and gifts. Several times during the night I was struck by how lucky my kids are to grow up with such an incredible group of people to love and look after them. It really does take a village and our village may be loud and crazy but it’s filled with tons of love. Ty was excited about everything! He loved the burgers, his Grandma’s famous macaroni salad, playing with his cousins, ice cream cake, the fact that people drove so long just for him and of course gifts. He was spoiled with a bunch of things he had been asking for.
Later in the night, after the family (both blood and those we’ve adopted in) left he disappeared into his bedroom for a couple of hours. We assumed he was playing with his new toys. A couple of hours later he comes out with gift bags. In each bag was a handmade card, a small gift he picked and a bracelet he made for each of us. He felt bad that we didn’t have any gifts to open and he wanted to do something special for us. It melted my heart. On a day where he was allowed, encouraged even, to think only about himself his concern was for other people. He has always been, for the most part, a kind and thoughtful child. I pray that those traits stick with him all his life.
After opening his gift I thought quite a bit on what a simple act of love it was. I also reflected on how rare that is becoming. How often do we actually think of others? Not only think of them but act on it? We live in a world that tells us that we are whats most important. Everything is about us and getting what we feel we deserve. We live in an age of attention seeking and self promotion. But God says,
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4
What I love about this verse is that it’s not saying we have to forget about taking care of ourselves. There seems to be two extremes; one where it all about you with no regard for anyone else and the other where you neglect your own needs while taking care of everyone else’s. Here in Philippians it says we are to take care of ourselves but also others. It’s a balance.
When I think about “esteem others better than himself” I most often think of building others up. And when I think of building others up, I think of my Mom. She has this incredible ability to see the good and giftings in other people. I am somewhat of a pessimist and have the tendency to see the bad in situations and people while Mom has laser vision for the good. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen her point out a natural gifting someone has and then watch her encourage them to grow in it and use it for God’s glory. She isn’t someone who seeks out the spotlight (so I’m sure she will appreciate this post). She is the type of person who shines that light on other people. My Mom is a great example of serving others.
I strongly desire to be like my mother. I want to find the beauty in other people that they can’t seem to find themselves. I want to nurture and encourage the hearts of people around me. I am so blessed that I have examples to follow in my mother and even my little guy.
Recently, I started attending a new woman’s bible study and it has been such an encouragement to me. It has also been challenging me to change the way I view what it means to be a christian woman. We are studying the Proverbs 31 woman. I have spent a lot of time trying to mimic the actions of this woman so that I too will be a “godly woman”. But I am realizing that her actions (getting up early, taking care of her family, etc.) are not what made her godly. I thought that by trying to do things exactly like she did I would learn how to think of other before myself. But this study has made me realize that she did those things because she was already godly and those actions were the fruit of a heart that loved God and cared for others. Once I stopped looking at it as a blueprint that you have to follow if you want to be a good wife or mother and rather as natural fruit that came from being a godly woman, the burden began to lift. As always, its a heart issue first.
So, I’ll leave you with this; spend time with God. If you want to fix a heart issue there is only one way, spending time in the presence of the Lord. Modifying your behavior will give you a temporary fix but a lasting change only comes from a changed heart. Pick up your Bible, spend time alone with him, pray, and listen when he shares with you. If you ask him to show you your heart he will because he knows it better than you do.
“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
I’ll also leave you with these pictures of my incredibly handsome little man because it was his birthday after all.