"Nobody knows you as well as your spouse. And that means no one will be quicker to recognize a change when you deliberately start sacrificing your wants and wishes to make sure his or her needs are met."
There are many moments in my life I am not proud of; all seem to have a common thread. That thread is SELF ~ self-absorption....self-centeredness...self-serving...selfishness. It's an ugly thread, trying to mask itself as self-nurturing. But the former produces discontent and alienates people; the latter is a healthy decision to take care of yourself.
Whether we are aware of it or not, we choose the threads we use to weave the canvases of our lives. True, circumstances...people...emotions...and a myriad of factors contribute to the choices we make. But at the end of the day, the healthiest thing we can do is to take ownership of these choices, and strive to reach for some better threads in the future.
My husband and I went on vacation recently. We spent a week in one of our favorite spots ~ a rustic, off-the-beaten-path avocado ranch that belongs to my husband's best friend. It's a sanctuary ~ a place of peace and quiet and beauty where we go to unwind, relax, and just be together.
But our week away didn't begin so idyllically. We arrived mid-afternoon on a Monday and were greeted by our friend, who was on the ranch tending to his avocado trees. My husband was overjoyed to see him, and asked if he could tag along in the orchard and lend a hand. I thought ~ great! This will give me an hour to unpack and get us settled. I sent him off with a kiss and "have fun".
But five o'clock rolled around...almost two hours since he'd taken off. Then six o'clock, and six-thirty. My growling stomach seemed to echo in the silence of the empty house. I wasn't worried. I was annoyed. And feeling neglected. By the time he walked through the door beaming ear to ear from his afternoon with his friend, I was mad...really mad. My expression must have clued him in. "What's wrong?"
"Where have you been? I've been sitting here waiting for you and I'm starving. I can't believe you were gone that long and just left me here."
The smile on his face disappeared, replaced with a defeated expression and slumped shoulders. I had sucked all the joy right out of him. True...he'd been gone a long time and I was very hungry. But right then, I realized how selfish I was acting.
We went to get some dinner, but the evening had a solemn tone. My outburst had left a cloud of mixed emotions hanging over both of us. To make matters worse, I was too proud to apologize and admit I'd blown it.
Why am I sharing something about myself that I am ashamed of? Because I want to tackle this selfish monster that can lurk within me. And I am thinking that there may be someone out there who feels the same way, too. I have learned that if I keep it hidden inside of me, I will remain under its influence. So I bring it into the light, because frankly, that's not who I want to be.
I want to live my life more selfLESSly. This doesn't mean self-neglect...just the opposite. I think it means nurturing and caring for myself enough that I don't have to give in to the selfish behavior. If I'm taking responsibility for my own self in healthy ways, the uglier side of self can be put to rest. The outcome will be that I'll be freed up to nurture, care for, and uplift others...even put them before my own wants.
I wish I could re-do that week away. What I can do is hold on to the lesson learned. And hopefully next time, I will be the one to put a smile on my husband's face instead of being the one that wipes it away.
"Giving yourself some loving attention is not selfish. It is sensible. If you feel loved and cherished ~ even if it is only by yourself ~ then you will have more love to give to others, too."
"Where there is selfishness it mars joy. One selfish soul will destroy the sweetness of life in any home."
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."