First, if I may ask, could you all please consider taking a moment of silence and prayer at 2:49 pm EST or any time today? It’s the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. Thank you.
How do you combat being selfish with your time? As a single person, it’s easy to get caught up in our own little independent world. There are those moments when we are needed for extra church things, hanging with our friend’s kids, getting caught up with something on the one night you could stay in, etc. where we get frustrated that the needs of others are taking away from our own time. How do you avoid this selfish tendency and what do you do to avoid becoming frustrated with “sharing” you time with others?
Hmm…to be honest, my first reaction when reading this prompt was to get a little defensive: “I’m not selfish! I thought common conception of the single life was how wonderful it was to be free to serve and less time to ourselves…how can we be called selfish?!?” But I thought about it some more and used it as a chance for a little Examen. How do I use my time? Did I refuse help to someone who asked? Did I help but inwardly grumble? Is the Lord calling me to take on more and I am ignoring him?
I think we can all agree that every person, regardless of state of life, should have at least some time to themselves to sleep, eat, be with their families, or even recharge without having to constantly justify how much is appropriate to their individual needs. And we can all agree that everyone “works” or serves. But the time we’re blogging about today is not any of the above; and the attitude is not of needed self-care but of false desire or possession. Whenever I realize I am too possessive with my time, I try to remember the real meaning of certain words:
Selfish: thinking only of the self: my wants, my desires, I, I, I; and has nothing to do with actual needs.
We should not be selfish. If asked to do something for another, we should evaluate the character of what we were going to do (actual need vs. a want): “You know, I suppose I could take the New Year’s Eve shift, because my plans were to dance and drink at a big party, and Carol’s are to fly out to visit her invalid aunt.”
Love: choosing to sacrifice something you want for the true good of another
We are called to love, and love looks like saying to the harried mom: “Yes, I’ll help stack the chairs after praise and worship,” instead of being home in time for Doctor Who.
Charity: generosity of self; giving of self in thoughts, words, actions
We should think, speak, and act generously. If the first reaction to a roommate’s offer to edit her paper is “But I’m in the zone writing/reading/blogging,” then that’s not really charitable. If the response out loud is “Sure, I’d love to,” and then actually do it, then we are exercising charity.
JOY: Jesus, Others, Yourself.
We have access to true joy, but it’s not found in nights in, getting caught up in projects at the expense of people, or indulging in solitary activities. Even if we are helpful when asked, sometimes we can reject God’s offer of joy by coming up with excuses for why we don’t take something on—like a volunteering commitment or regular date with our favorite kids—even though we totally could. Joy is found in serving the Lord, serving our families, friends, and church, and serving our souls.
Evaluating our responses and reasons for why we do or don’t give of ourselves now while we’re single is actually great practice for marriage and parenthood when our gift of self is to our husbands and children. Thanks for the examination of conscience, topic suggester! :)