Saturday, December 16, 2006

Unveiling the Motives

Right now we are visiting Josh's family for Neisler family Christmas. It has been lots of fun, of course, but I have been humbled as one by one, my own insecurities (which I thought no longer existed), materialism and altogether self-centeredness have been unveiled to me.

See, I tend to enter these big family events with a motivation to prove that I am totally into the family and sort of shine as a big helper and buddy for everyone. I don't WANT to be like that, I don't set out on the trip intending to be this way. I just slip into this "character" like I slip into jeans that are ill-fitting and unflattering. I hate the way I look the whole time, yet bothering to go change into something more appropriate is too hard.

Apparently I love to be a martyr. This is what happened today. We were having a surprise party for Josh's dad this morning (he turned 50) so we all had to get up early and get to the grocery and make all the food and have the party set up by a certain time. So I let everyone else get a shower first, and consequently didn't get to get one myself. After the party, I was flying around cleaning, organizing, carrying out all presents and leftovers (thinking in the back of my mind how hardworking I am). When we arrived home (Josh's mom and I arrived first) I washed up all the dishes, helped Josh's mom make up our list for tonight, cleaning, organzing, and wishing I could just go get a shower real quick (and starting to feel envious of all the clean tidy people around me). Well, you might imgaine the rest of the story. I kept busy helping and being on everybody's team and trying to make everybody have fun. That is not so restful. You cannot rest if you are always looking for a chance to shine. By the end of the evening, I had really worked up the martyr mindset. We played Bingo with prizes (annual tradition), and I didn't win once, even though everyone else won multiple times. But I, the good model-daughter/sister-in-law did not complain, and cheered for everyone, even though I had in the back of my mind the ugly thought that I wished they would let me win because I had been so nice all day, and I was everybody's favorite in the family. I also snapped a couple of times at Josh's siblings (all grown-ups) because I was irritated or offended that they were not thinking of me as the model sissy-in-law.

Where do these self-centered thoughts come from? I have longed to be centered on Christ in my thinking and affections this Advent season, but all it takes is one long day of celebration, and my hidden desires spring forth. I am ashamed. I wish I could rewind the Holiday and just worship Jesus and not myself.

So I am sharing this because I don't feel it is too late! I am going to read and read and read my Bible tonight, and talk to my Sweet Jesus and ask Him to forgive me for showing off at His birthday party like a five-year-old younger sister who is jealous of their sibling getting all the gifts. Don't let this be you! A holiday is unfulfilling if anything besides Jesus is our focus. Don't let it be gifts. Don't let it be food. Don't let it be decorations. Don't let it be Christmas movies. Don't even let it be your kids, your significant other, your mother, your favorite Christmas songs. Ask the Babe in the manger to show you how you might kneel humbly before Him and give Him a precious gift like the Magi: your attention.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, Gretchen, how hard that must have been. You are one of the most caring, giving people I know. I'm glad Jesus is so real to you. It makes Him shine through you even more, when you're sensitive to Him and His direction.

Anonymous said...

Ooops. I thought by posting, you could click on my name and it would link you to my blog. ugh. I've got to get this thing figured out...

Brittany

GloryandGrace said...

Gret~

Thank you, thank you for your honesty in this post. What is so interesting about it (a confession here on my part) is that some of your thoughts sounded like the exact same things that were running through my mind on Thursday. We had a white elephant gift exchange at work, and while the gift I received was in fact offensive (not just to me), I still responded horribly (and of course not out in the open, but in the back of my mind).

Thank you again for your candidness and for being an example of the undeserving, merciful sanctification process we are continually in.

Spurring you on in the race~

Gretchen said...

Brit -- thank you for the encouragement. That is sweet, especially when I was like "who is that?? I know this person?" when I saw your comment. :)

Grace -- I know we are friends because you call me Gret. That is what most everyone calls me. I like Gretchen, too. Thank you for identifying with me. I know what you mean about not responding on the outside. I'm good at that.

Anonymous said...

Gretchen,
Girl, I have been there more times than you know...especially this past weekend...it sort of was like Sunday night was the big meltdown. Unfortunately, human depravity plagues us still. Thank God for His forgiveness and lovingkindness...I love the idea of God's lovingkindness. Thanks for the transparency...I appreciated it greatly!

GloryandGrace said...

My question is, are you going to be able to call me by anything other than Grace after we meet each other? :)

Sarah said...

Gretchen, you are a breathe of fresh air to me! I so often feel the same way--like a spoiled child always wanting to be the center of attention. Thank you for sharing your realization and the focus that you know you need to have. It was a challenge to me! Love ya....

Sarah said...

Oops...I meant "breath" of fresh air...I cannot leave that, since I am a spelling freak and am paranoid about spelling things wrong. :-)

Anonymous said...

Ok, so I know this is not a funny post, but I had to smile as I read it because I can relate so well. You mean I'm not the only one who struggles with that? My question is, how do you get to the point where you can serve and encourage others without secretly thinking, "my, my, I hope somebody notices what a great servant/encourager/Christian I am"? I enjoy reading your posts, even though this is the first time I've commented on one. Thanks for being vulnerable in order to encourage the rest of us to look past our silly little selves and to the One who alone deserves our attention.

Sharon

Anonymous said...

I'm late to post, and most of the others have echoed my original thoughts. I deal with these same things EVERY time we go to my in-laws. You see, there are 3 daughter-in-laws, all competing to be well-thought-of by our husbands and parents-in-law. I find myself taking a looooong bath sometimes (I wouldn't be the one to sacrifice bathing, otherwise I look like a freak!) and thinking about how I have been wronged in one way or another. And the sickening thing is, I know I struggle with this and I pray a lot before we go and while we are there! Yet I still seem to slip into my depraved mode and ruin aspects of it for myself and others.
I will pray for you and do the same for me! Thanks for the honesty!

Gretchen said...

My dear sisters in Christ -- thank you a thousand times over for your encouragement and likemindedness. I can't believe I'm not the only one (just kidding, I realize we all share the same human depravity).

For you fellow sisters-in-law, what is it that makes us want to shine and stand out? I just get this URGE when I am with my in-laws to make them think, or even say "wow, Gret, we sure are glad you are in our family". I guess it is "the fear of man" as much as anything else like that is. The opposite being the fear of God!

Our security in who we are in Christ is the only thing that enables us to dwell in peace, knowing what He thinks of us, and how we are accepted in Him.

Grace -- probably not. . . :)
Sharon -- YEA! A comment from my faraway friend!
G-Knee -- I hate it that our depravity plagues us in the midst of such a beautiful season. But His lovingkindness is WONDERFUL!
Sarah -- AUGH! Nothing is more humbling than realizing that you have been acting childish! I just hate it!
Nettie -- 3 sisters-in-law? I'm sorry. I will pray that you all will be secure in Christ and be united in Christ. That urge to "top" is SO hard to resist!!

Anonymous said...

yet another reason to celebrate the single-season

Josh said...

"Don't even let it be...your significant other..."

How blessed I am! You all get to read Gret's blog, but I get to share life with her! I rise up and call her blessed. Thanks be to God. Gretel, I'm so glad you love Jesus more than you love me!

Anonymous said...

Gretchen...I love your honesty! I read little excerpts of your post to Dave because it sounds just like me. You are a good example to us all. We all struggle with the flesh- but you recognize it and deal with it before God.

Setrn said...

Oh, Gret, what a beautiful post! I so appreciate your honesty and candor. I could almost see you . But I have a hard time imagining you with anything short of a great attitude. I guess it is refreshing to hear that you do occasionally have a bad one! Anyway, I plan to read and reread this post, along with my Bible, before I head into any family get togethers this year. I am already dreading how painful they are going to be, but I am ashamed ahead of time, because it is all about Jesus, and not about me! You will be missed, we love you dearly.

Gretchen said...

Sara: thanks for the encouragement. I am blown away by your hospitality!! You are such a worker bee!

Sandy: bless you, girl. I will be praying for you this holiday that Jesus will refresh your spirit with a new sense of the wonder of His incarnation. Maybe it will be the BEST Christmas ever because you are in love with the Adorable Christ more than ever!

mitchells2000 said...

Gretchen - this is Heather (Chromy) Mitchell. Just ran across your blog... and can also SO identify with you. Thanks for being so transparent and honest. They say that the first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging the fact that you have one. I know for myself, it is very difficult to ADMIT to everyone else my TRUE self... the thoughts that hide behind the smile. Thanks for the encouragement. BTW - I just have to say this... in my husband's family there are 3 daughters-in-law... and I AM THE FAVORITE!! :-P Actually, that's true, unfortunately. Only, though, because I have chosen to do what I have been commanded to do, and that is to forgive as Christ forgave me. Anyway... check out our website: www.mitchells2000.blogspot.com