Wednesday, June 18

I Am So Vain... Ramblings of a Girl With Just the Right Amount of Insomnia

I've never thought of myself as a vain person and Facebook status updates don't usually float around in my mind longer than the seven seconds it takes to read them, but one I read yesterday did. I didn't even click “like” b/c I didn't exactly like it at the time—I didn't admit it to myself then, but it hit a bit too close to home. It was about vanity and selfishness and when I read it I thought, “So true... glad I'm not like that.”  I filed it away in the back of my mind where it stayed until I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't fall back to sleep.

I lay in bed and kept thinking about that status update (those of you who use Facebook, do you think your status updates aren't important? They're probably not, but they might be once in awhile!) I kept thinking about how Facebook can be very narcissistic, making people vain or revealing how vain they already were.  After all, how many of my own  status updates were written simply because I had something I thought was so clever, or because I wanted people to like me or notice me?

A very long time ago, the most inspiring man ever (who also happened to be God) said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, & take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the world and loses himself?” (Luke 9:23-25)

So while I couldn't sleep tonite, I realized why certain people who inspire me do. They inspire me because they gave infinitely more of their lives for other people. They “lost” their own lives, their own wills, and their own simple little pleasures that seemed so important until they realized deep down in their hearts that life did not revolve around them.

Florence Nightingale was beautiful. I portrayed her in a play for our Children's Church last year and read so much about her that I felt I truly knew her. She was witty, charming, and wealthy.  She had numerous suitors.  She went to balls in England's high society and lived a life of pleasure and seeming-contentment. But she was not content. She kept thinking of so many people who were hurting; she didn't even know them, but she was not content to continue living her life for herself when she knew she could do something about it. As for me, I find out a little bit about one person's sadness whom I know and my heart feels like it breaks in half for them.  But Florence Nightingale wanted to give up her life for people she didn't even know!

I realize God gives everyone their own place in the world where they can “lay down their life.” As a wife and homeschooling mother, I can't travel the world and relieve the pain of thousands of people as the lovely Florence Nightingale did, but I can at least look past my own vanity.  After all, the world doesn't revolve around me no matter how much I sometimes, if I'm honest with myself, wish it did.

Sometimes, I wake up with the dawn and I know Jesus wants me to pray. I think, “Yeah, I can pray in my bed where it's nice and cozy. There's nothing  wrong with that.” And then I fall back to sleep in less than a minute. Celena, you are a selfish, vain, lazy bum—people need you to pray for them! Maybe you don't agree, but prayer is more than words. It's a “sweet smelling incense” to God, it's more tangible than so many things you can do, it's a way to touch someone's life who you can't otherwise do anything for.  Crying out to God with passion is something we all need to do, but it is not something that happens when you simply go about your day and give God short tidbits of near-thoughtless prayers, or when you lay in bed half asleep.

So yesterday, after day upon day of a conviction I ignored, I got out of bed & actually got on my knees and prayed for real for the people on my heart. And after that, God made my day & blessed me in lotsa different little ways, & spoke to my heart. I lost my own will, my own “life” for just about 10 minutes & for that small, tiny (I know it was a very small, almost unmentionable sacrifice) He blessed me abundantly and gave me back whatever of my own “comfort” I might have lost.

If I feel that way because of something so simple, what will my life be, what kind of fulfillment will I have, if I truly follow Florence Nightingale's example and live always (or even half of always) for people who aren't me?

"The most important [commandment]," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."  Mark 12:29-31