Category Archives: Selfishness

The Envious Eye

envious eye by nirots

image courtesy of nirots / freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve been really discouraged and frustrated lately about being single. The older I get, the more it becomes a real threat that I won’t have a husband or family. I know God calls some people to singleness, but I have never felt that call on my life. In addition, the Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:9, “But if they cannot control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust.” And believe me folks, especially in the last few months: I’ve been on FIRE, out of control, and more than a little ticked at God about the whole thing.

For Christmas, my bosses gave me some little hand lotions and a spa gift card. Now, I don’t use conventional hand lotions because of all the chemicals, but these were really nice sets of lotions and I wanted them to go to a good home. So I stopped by a few offices on my way through the building last Friday, eager to give out these little lotions to some friends and coworkers. At the last office, I stopped and gave the last few lotions to the two secretaries that I always chat with when I visit that office. They were excited to have such a nice, little gift and very thankful that I thought of them.

As the two secretaries were sampling the lotions, another girl—we will call her Gina—came out from her private office and asked what everyone was doing. One of the secretaries answered, “Oh, Michelle brought us some lotions.” Immediately, Gina began to make a big deal about how I didn’t bring her anything, and I should have shared with her and not just these two girls, ad nauseam. When I pointed out to her that I was the giver, and she did not get to dictate who I gave anything to, she got even more incensed. I also noted to her that I had given her really nice gifts in the past, and she replied that that was “a couple of years ago.” I also pointed out to her that she had acted in this way before when I gave something to someone else—she had come in and started taking things that I had purposed for someone else. She then stated that the person I had given those things to had WANTED to share them with everyone. At this point, the two secretaries were so undone at how Gina was acting that they offered up their lotions to her. Then she made a big deal of not accepting them because that wasn’t what I wanted. The whole situation was totally embarrassing for Gina, even if she didn’t realize it or think so.

As for me personally, I was livid, really. You see, I had given to Gina in the past, and I felt it was pretty crappy and ungrateful for her to interrupt a thoughtful moment with her incredibly selfish banter. I was mad mostly because Gina is a Christ follower, and that kind of nonsense makes believers look incredibly petty—it was trial size hand lotions, for crying out loud. As I was recalling the situation and my anger to my mother, I said, “My gosh, does Gina act this way when God gives someone else something that He doesn’t give her? Because that would explain a lot!”

A few hours later, as I was stewing and trying to pray about this matter, God nudged me about that particular comment. He said very clearly to me, “But Michelle, isn’t that how YOU think? Don’t you believe that I should give you a husband and kids? Don’t you look at other people and go, they have a husband and kids, why don’t I?”

And that hurt. Because (as always) He was absolutely right.

I tend to believe that I am not all that selfish, but it’s really not true. My selfishness comes out in different ways—in fact, I act towards God like Gina did to me. I may not do it over hand lotion, but recently, I’ve definitely been doing it over getting a new job, having my own place, moving to a warmer state, and having that elusive family/husband. And though the Lord has provided so much for me—both now and in the past, I tend to interrupt any kind of thanksgiving with my own selfish banter about what I want and need right now that He has not given me. Or what someone else has that I want. And when God gave me a brief glimpse into that, I was embarrassed—this time, for myself.

Matthew 20 begins with a parable about a vineyard owner who is searching for laborers to work his fields. He hires three sets of laborers at three different times during the day, and each group he agrees to pay a denarius. The other groups are not aware of what each is getting paid. So imagine the anger of the first and second group when the third group gets paid exactly what the first two are getting paid. The owner doesn’t want to hear their grumbling. He is basically like, “Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? So then take your money and go.” But then he says something that catches my eye and rifles through my heart like a shot: “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?” (Matthew 20:15)

This is the point that I tried to relay to Gina, and it’s the point that God in turn relayed to me. Gina had an envious eye, but so do I—and maybe you do, too. Wanting something that God hasn’t decided to give me yet isn’t the sin. The sin is seeing God’s generosity in other people’s lives and being envious that those gifts haven’t been given to me. It’s okay for me to want to be married and have kids and to have my own place, etc.—as long as I don’t want those things more than I want Jesus, as long as wanting those things doesn’t become the focal point of my life, as long as those wants aren’t what compel me. Seeing others get what I think I deserve—that is the real sin. What I truly deserve is death. Anything I get beyond that is gravy!

Mostly, I need to make sure I am taking pains to pluck out the envious eye every time it surfaces and regrows in my life. Because when you have an envious eye, you’re not going to see anything the way it really is—you’re only going to see what you didn’t get or what you don’t have. And by doing so, you’ll miss out on the real blessings God is showering you with every single day.

Breaking Bad: The Problem

image courtesy of jscreationzs / freeditigalphotos.net

image courtesy of jscreationzs / freeditigalphotos.net

There’s a whole slew of people for whom being good is first nature. They want to be good people; they don’t tire of doing the right thing; their natural position is to desire holiness. When they sin, they are grieved by it. There’s only reveling when there’s reconciliation with their God. They may struggle with something, but it’s a brief struggle and then joy returns as they know they’ve overcome. They love being good because it brings them closer to holiness, closer to righteousness, closer to the Lord.

Then there’s me. I just wanna be bad.

It’s not that I don’t desire to be good and be godly; sometimes, I do. But sometimes (right now being one of those times), I don’t want to be a good person. I don’t want to be godly or holy, I don’t want to do the right thing, and I don’t want to represent Christ in my actions. In fact, right now, I think it’s safe to say that I want to be the exact opposite of godly. Yeah, that’s right Willa Ford—I get what you were feeling. I don’t want to be evil, killing innocent children or anything like that. But I do want to be a little dirty, a little crazy, and a lot self-indulgent. And I know there are other people out there who feel just like me, because I have been talking around to others and trying to find if there are others like me. And they freely admit it.

I go through this every now and again, where the desire to be bad outweighs my desires to do anything that honors the Lord. My motto right now is, “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” And what’s worse is that this desire plays itself out in my daily decisions. I’m not going to sit here and tell you what the cause is (it’s just sin, quite honestly—human nature, flesh) or how to fix this; I’m just here to tell you that if you’ve ever felt this way, I understand. I’m there right now. The struggle is REAL.

This isn’t one of those times where I have done something wrong and I regret it—this isn’t every day living and every day sin. This is one of those intense struggles with my flesh where I don’t want to be good and I’m not even trying. I’m watching things I shouldn’t watch, thinking about things I shouldn’t think about, and indulging in my fleshly desires—whatever they may be. I don’t have discipline and quite frankly, I don’t want it. Interestingly enough, I’m doing my devotions every day, I’m praying and going to church, and I’m fellowshipping with other Christians. I’m just being very honest with everyone about where I’m at: I want to be bad, and there’s nothing anyone can do to convince me that being good is the better alternative right now.

So why am I blogging about this? Because I think there are more people out there struggling like this than there are struggling about the fact that they said a bad word or had a fight with their spouse or had an impure thought. I’m not saying those things aren’t struggles or that they aren’t real. They most definitely are. But this here, this hardcore struggle against flesh and blood, this is where the rubber meets the road. And nobody is talking about it (except maybe the guys from Bad Christian Podcast, and God bless them). So I want to be a voice crying out in the wilderness…I’m struggling, man, and I want to share it with you so that if you’re struggling like this, you know that you’re not alone. And maybe together, we can start breaking this desire to be bad. Lord willing. 🙂

That Lyin’ Pride: Me Me Me

peacocks by tina phillips

image courtesy of Tina Phillips / freedigitalphotos.net

It’s been a hard summer. I’ve experienced some hurt at the hands of others, and recently, one of those friends reached out to me to get together before she moves away. I had reached out to her to meet and she had said she would like that and had to “check her schedule” and get back to me. However, she never got back to me. Weeks went by, and she sent me some other communications, but nothing about getting together. I was really hurt but had felt as if I had been the one who had given relentlessly in the relationship, so I refused to remind her about my invitation to get together. Then a few days ago, she let me know she wanted to get together before she moved. I looked at my phone when I got the message, and promptly typed, “I would like that. Let me check my schedule and get back to you.” I then promptly waited 24 hours before attempting to set up a time to meet with her. As I reflect on my actions, I realize that instead of being loving, I was listening to the voice of pride.

One of the loudest thing pride says to us is that “everything is all about me.” It is easy to see pride’s “me me me” attitude when we are simply making choices that revolve around us.  However, when we are hurting, that is when pride makes its biggest moves. It begins to tell us that our feelings are the most important. We have all been there—in that place where we want others to feel what we are feeling, to experience the hurt that they have doled out to us. That’s what I wanted to happen in my situation with my friend. I wanted to prove a point; I wanted her to realize that I was doing to her what she did to me. I wanted her to understand my pain. Instead of focusing on restoration, I was focused on justice. And while justice is one of God’s traits, He tells us that vengeance belongs to Him (Romans 12:9). Pride, though, tells me that I should be the one who avenges my feelings and tries to make the other person pay.

So how can I fight the prideful attitude of me me me? James 4:6 says, “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” It is difficult for me to give grace when I am hurting because I’m so focused on my own feelings. But I think one of the things that I tend to forget is that grace is the counter action to pride. I know the opposite of pride is humility, but how can I practice humility? This Bible verses says that God gives us grace when we are humble…so I think we have to practice humility by giving more grace as God gives to us. The right thing, the graceful thing for me to do with my friend would have been to answer her other texts and love her as I’ve always loved her. Even though my pride says that I’ve given far more than I’ve received in this relationship, grace tells me to depend on the Lord for strength to give even more. When pride says to wait for her to respond, grace tells me to seek her out continually, just as the Lord continues to seek me out—because as I continue to do these things, I becomes less like my flesh and more like Christ.

I’m not saying this is easy—as you can see, I still struggle with the right way to handle relationships and the best ways to fight pride in my life. But one thing I do know is that I want to receive more grace from God—and in order to receive grace, I must give grace. And if it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), I want to give more grace and less pride.

How can you give more grace and, in turn, fight pride in your life?