While Mom and I were eating lunch today, after her having chemo yesterday, we began talking about the Connect weekend beginning tomorrow at church. In addition to special services, on Saturday the church will be doing mission projects throughout the area. As we were talking about those mission projects, Mom said, “That’s the one thing that’s the hardest about these treatments: that I’m not able to do things like that.”
She talked about how she would have loved to be on one of the yard teams, where volunteers will be cleaning up individuals’ yards who can’t do it on their own, and if you know my mom, you know nothing would bring her more joy!
At the moment it was too painful to let her words sink in, but later as I replayed the conversation in my mind, I began to see something in her words that humbled me greatly.
I can’t for a moment begin to understand what she goes through, not only with the side effects of the treatments but with all the fears and uncertainty that come with an incurable cancer. But I can think back three months ago when I had the most excruciating earache and what my mindset was at the time. Here were some thoughts that went through my mind:
This is worse than childbirth.
When is this pain going to end?
The doctor can’t see me until 2 p.m. today?!? Why in the world can’t I get in earlier?
I may have to rethink my position on medical marijuana. (Yep, I thought that and will totally admit it.)
There’s no point in me going to church Sunday. I can’t hear anything so I couldn’t be a part of it anyway.
Did you notice a theme in any of my thoughts? I did. They were all about me. I could not see past my own pain. I wallowed in a pity party and sunk into despair as my hearing loss dragged on and on.
Yet here my mom was, bracing for another weekend of being sick, and what she hates the most is not being able to serve.
Just yesterday I was contemplating life and death (the melancholy side of my melancholy/choleric personality started taking over for a moment) and how just like our ancestors before us, both Mom and I will eventually be a memory. I contemplated what legacy she will leave and I knew right away. She lives her life to serve. She pours her life out for others. She always has. Me, on the other hand, I live my life for me most of the time. I see it in my reactions to my kids. I see it in my longing for approval from others. I see it in my seeking things other than loving God and loving people to make me happy and fulfilled.
Jesus – our ultimate example – gave up everything. He poured out himself in both his life and his death for the sake of others. Not once did he do anything to serve his own purposes, to seek his own pleasure, to advance his own standing. Oh, how far from that I am. I try to be like Jesus but “me” keeps getting in the way.
I am grateful that I have the ultimate example in the written record of Jesus’ life to guide me, but I’m also grateful that I have the example of service from my mom. She will not be happy that I’m writing this because she’s also the poster-child for humility and hates attention but I want her to know she’s doing well, faithful servant, and her example impacts me.
It makes me examine my motives. It shines a light on my cleverly disguised excuses. It shows me in real flesh and blood what it looks like to pour yourself out in service to God and others, even when it’s not convenient.
Oh that I would allow a heart change, that I would die to myself, and live my life serving others. That I could be like Jesus. That I could be like Mom.