This sounds very spiritual, doesn't it? As humans, we typically regard ourselves as being continually on the path of righteousness and obtaining our glorious crown. I know I do. But when God reveals a little something to me here and there, I'm reminded of just how far I really have to go.
As a mom, I'm not only reminded of how far I have to go, but I realize daily that 5 other humans in my care are watching me. I am their example. And I better be a good one! Every situation I find myself in is an opportunity to learn and to teach.
There are two very enlightening authors who have influenced this notion of dying to self, which I have learned is a daily, needed lesson in all walks of life. (I'm 41, and I still find myself needing to be reminded that it's not about me. As I remind myself, I instruct my children along the way.)
I was very fortunate to be introduced to Elisabeth Elliot in my early years as a wife and mother. She is, hands down, the queen of plain talk. : ) She does not mince words, she does not preach a feel-good gospel. When it seems that your day (or your life!) is falling apart, this is the kind of wisdom you need. Feel-good promises start to seem empty when it looks like God has forgotten His promises to you. We forget sometimes that Jesus didn't live a glamorous, trouble-free life on this earth. If He didn't, why do we think we will?
I listened to Elisabeth's radio show for many years, and my mom purchased her cassettes and loaned them to me. Wow. It's hard to describe the mixture of encouragement and wisdom that come from this lady. She's very encouraging to mothers, wives, and Christians. And in every message, she reminds us that it is not for us to ask "why?" or for us to be offended by hurt, harm, or evil. It is for us to be like Jesus. And Jesus suffered tragically.
We've got to take the pain, you know. We have to accept the fact that life is not going to be all roses. And when we feel that we've been dealt a poor hand of cards, let's remember God is still on His throne.
When you hurt, can you bring yourself to rejoice? One of the old saints that I read said, "Accustom yourself to injustice and unreasonableness." Those are good words to remember--accustom yourself to injustice and unreasonableness.
To take up the cross means to give energy to a seemingly hopeless task; Submit to unsympathetic authorities; Obey commands that you would not have chosen; Submitting to unsympathetic authorities; Obey commands that you would not have chosen; Face public mocking and ridicule; Be rejected by those you have loved and served; Have your motives and actions misjudged; Experience pain and discomfort; (To take up the cross means to experience pain. Of course it does! Jesus was nailed to a cross, and He hung there for hours.) To take up the cross means to see those you care about reject God. Some of your hearts are breaking because your children, perhaps, have rejected God.
My other absolute favorite is Thomas a'Kempis' The Imitation of Christ. It is a very old book, and so full of wisdom that I have to read it in short spurts just to let it sink in. It has helped me through many, many difficult years.
Our whole trust is not to be placed in frail and mortal people, even though they are helpful and dear to us; nor should we be sad if sometimes they oppose or contradict us. Put your whole trust in God and let Him be your fear and your love. He will answer for you Himself, and will do for you what is best.
Make possible for me, O Lord, by your grace what seems impossible to me in my nature. You know how little I am able to bear and how quickly I am discouraged when adversity rises up against me. Whatever trial or tribulation may come to me, may it become to me pleasing and acceptable, for to suffer and be distressed is very healthy to the soul.
You can see that both of these authors offer encouragement (in a different sort of way, of course) to be like Christ. How many times do we (and our children) ask why things must happen to us, or wonder why someone would be rude to us? It's not fun. We get our feelings hurt.
But from what I read in scripture, there is no biblical basis for being offended. Ouch. We kind of get all attached to our hurt feelings. It's even more comfy when others feel sorry for us, and share in our hurts, and sympathize profusely. It makes us feel justified. But we are called to be like Jesus, who was the most selfless being. And this is where this post comes full-circle:
dying to self means denying our right to be hurt.
I'm sharing what I have learned, and what I am teaching my children. Lines by these two great authors would make great copywork for your homeschool time, and memorization for the whole family. God bless you in whatever struggles you may be facing. I pray that He will allow you to "rejoice always" and trust His plan for you!