“Where’s Jared? You brought him home, right?” We had been home about 20 minutes from a team basketball party at a restaurant and were mindlessly sitting in the living room watching the end of American Idol when Jose looks up from his computer and asks again, “You brought him home, right?” I immediately leaped out of my seat in a complete and utter panic. No, I don’t remember bringing him home! Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, I have got to go get him right this minute. My 7 year old is stranded alone in the parking lot! It’s dark. It’s cold. Somebody call the restaurant! Where are my keys? Who cares about shoes or coats or absolutely anything else in this moment. The only thing I can think about is getting to Jared as fast I can. My response is purely visceral. No words can describe my thoughts and emotions. My baby needs me. I am in a panic while I hear Jose calling the restaurant and I am almost out the door when one of our other kids says “Jared’s here. He’s asleep in Sadie’s (our dog’s) bed.” I start to cry. I am overwhelmed with relief. The fog slowly lifts, and I begin to remember he was in the car when we left the restaurant!
I know you are thinking, so how could you not remember that??? But when you have five kids running to and fro and five voices all blending together, let me tell you, it’s easy to forget. It takes hours for the adrenaline to wear off and of course we have a story to laugh about and yet another reminder that mommy needs to keep a little bit better track of who she’s in charge of.
I would sacrifice almost anything for my kids. In that moment, my reflex was go. I didn’t think “oh, what an inconvenience” or “he can figure it out on his own and doesn’t need me” or “I would rather be watching American Idol right now.” The absolute only thing I could think about was getting to him. Me, my, mine was out of the equation.
And I was reminded how little I really live in that selfless place. The place I live most is in a world of me’s. What works for me, what I like, what I don’t like. What I’m willing to do. What I’m not willing to do. My self-centeredness is more evident to me probably than anyone else but it’s there, it’s my natural bent. Sacrificing my time, dropping everything for another human being, being willing to lay aside my life, my ways, my desires to “be Jesus for someone else” doesn’t come naturally. In fact, everything inside of me screams against it. But in that moment, when I thought Jared was alone in the cold, it was a no-brainer. Sacrifice didn’t feel like a sacrifice.
In John 15, Jesus says “there’s no greater love than he who would lay down his life for a friend.” And what does it mean, to lay down my life? I think laying down my life means I’d be willing to run out the door when someone is in need, willing to give up American Idol and spend time with someone who is lonely, desperate, hurting. That I’d get beyond my to-do list and show up at my kids school unexpectedly to show them how much I love them. That I’d give up needing to win an argument or be right or be noticed or praised. That I’d get beyond just my desire to serve others and actually spend time feeding the hungry, offering water to the thirsty, giving my stuff away instead of hoarding it. That I’d spend less of my thoughts thinking about what other people think of me and pray for others instead. It’s giving up some of the me’s, my, and mine’s for my friends.
Okay, sounds good, but why is it so hard? It’s just unnatural. What comes naturally for me is to live in my own little Kathy world. And in my little Kathy world I value status, I treasure my to-do lists, I like to be in control, I like things to basically go the way I thought they’d be. Remember, I have a carnival in my head where I am the main attraction (see previous blog). Laying down my life for my friends means I have to give up these things and rely on God, to trust mystery, to do things that never get noticed, to be flexible, to give up my self-centered way for His others-centered way. Thinking about Easter this week, Jesus gave it all up for us. All of it. But what I love about Jesus is that He didn’t like every aspect of His sacrifice. He didn’t say “hey, this is the greatest thing ever, it’s a piece of cake.” He wrestled in the Garden of Gethsemene with God, crying out “do I really have to die?” knowing His sacrifice was going to mean pain and suffering.
We’re not Jesus, and in our case, the honest answer is we don’t really have to. I can live in my own little Kathy world all I want and God will keep loving me. But I’ll miss out. I won’t get to experience the joy, the hope, the freedom, the peace, the purpose, the passion that comes from laying down my life for my friends.