On the heels of my last post re the boundaries of my comfort zone, I happened to catch the last part of a PBS documentary called Life. Support. Music. about a NYC musician who emerged from a vegetative state after suffering a near fatal brain hemorrhage. The documentary included video clips from the rehabilitation center where they worked to restore his motor skills and brain function, and as much progress as he was making, his future looked grim. So grim, in fact, that doctors recommended he be transferred to a nursing home for continued care.
Well, the family was not having this since any chance of his recovery would be shot while wasting away in a facility with no rehabilitation plan. They opted to bring Jason home and care for him on their own, despite the doctors’ warning of the grueling 24hr care it would require. The family rallied, and worked in shifts of morning, afternoon, and over-night, not only caring for his basic needs like bathing and feeding, but also stimulating his brain function with puzzles and games and such.
After two years or so Jason was walking, talking, playing his guitar, and fully functioning on his own. It was incredible. The primary care doctor said very certainly that the only reason Jason survived and recovered was because of the dedication of his family. If it weren’t for them, he would have surely been confined to a bed in a nursing care facility for the rest of his life.
As I watched this documentary, my pile of clothes still unfolded (maybe I need to stop watching tv while doing laundry!), all I could think of was, What if this happened to someone in my family? What if this happened to Bryan? And through my mind raced everything I would have to give up – all my hobbies, all my free time, all my relational outlets – in order to care for someone at that level.
Quite honestly, as I imagined the mere possibility of this scenario, I felt anger in my heart – anger at the unfairness that everything I ever wanted for myself could be stripped away because of someone else’s needs.
These were very disturbing and convicting thoughts, considering not more than an hour before watching the documentary an ambulance pulled up in front of my neighbor’s house. I stood at my ironing board with a mound of clothes in front of me and the energy waning from my body. Do I stop what I’m doing to check on my neighbor and see if there’s anything I can help with? If I do, then my tasks could be left undone and my plans for the next day may be disrupted.
In that moment I became aware of my deep selfishness because the laundry was just an excuse for me to not get involved.
Natalie hit it dead on in her comment at my previous post about seeking comfort. I know self-comfort my idol, that thing I make more important than anyone else, including Jesus. I see it play out in my issues with rage and anger as much as I see it play out in extending myself to others.
I have a fortress built around my comfort, a wall I realize even I can’t break down with my own will-power. I am both terrified and relieved, though, to see it beginning to crumble under the weight of a God who wants me to be free from my Gollom-like self preservation.
7 thoughts on “my precious”
Lot’s of honesty in what you write, Jen. But also a pretty good description of the rest of us and how we are naturally selfish, even when we seem to be people who care and do a lot for others. But there is also another side to this.
We are to love ourselves like we love others. If we don’t take care of our own needs, we don’t have the reserve to care for others. When we get in that position, the result is also exactly what you describe: anger, frustration, loss of energy, even depression. So when we feel these, we need to ask a hard question: are the feelings due to selfishness, or are they due to not loving ourselves enough to take care of our needs.
As in the rest of life, this balance is tenuous.
Once again, piercing my heart to it’s wretched core. I’d like to thank you for your transparency but since it pisses me off to face my true bitchiness, I’ll pass this time. Now… off to deal with some of that shit in my soul…
Thank you for your post today. I’ve been faced with the reality of this in the last 8 months. The day after Thanksgiving our then 2 and a half year old daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia. Our lives have become completely taken over by her treatment. We literally live in the hospital half of the time. It’s amazing how much selfishness you can still have even under such circumstances. Self-comfort… oh yeah. ‘I haven’t had a good nights sleep in months… my back hurts… today was miserable… I deserve a treat or this or that… whatever.’ UGH. Oh… the little games we play in our minds to please our idols. Just wanted to say you’re not alone. Even in a circumstance in which you would think you would only care about your child… selfishness comes right on out.
You’re killing me here. 🙂 Seriously, I am just like that. Seeking my own comfort and self-interest first. Thanks for challenging me.
Honestly hits a bulls-eye with me.
Thanks for the words.
I’m glad you wrote this post- I’ve been struggling with this ever since having the baby. Sometimes I used to comfort myself throughout the infertility by thinking (and knowing it wasn’t true) that perhaps God gave children to people to cure them of selfishness, and that clearly I was already so unselfish that I didn’t need children to whip it out of me. Come to find out, I am apparently not nearly so saintly as I once esteemed myself 😉 I was reading a book that talked about finding rhythms with a newborn and one woman was quoted as saying that she used to get irritated at having to do all the diapering and feeding and stuff, because she just wanted to get back to doing “her stuff” and then she suddenly realized that the baby *was* “her stuff.” That one hit home too. Annnnyway… I’m glad you wrote this post 🙂
Thanks for posting this Jen. I’ll be praying for you! I’ve realized that God is also breaking down my own idols of wanting stability. My flesh tires of moving around all of the time (I spent 19 years in the same house and have moved a dozen or so times since then). But I’m learning to allow God to take me where He wants me and I’m less freaked out and angry by His Grace alone! I’m excited for the next season of my life living with you guys! (Whenever that goes down :D).