Last week, I wrote about dying to self and how this many-layered theological concept became personal to me during a stressful time of my life. Now, I explain how an unexpected epiphany brought hope and freedom to my dry heart—and just might do the same for you.
I continued thinking about dying to self as the months went by. We even started talking about it as a family. We called it “DTS-ing” for short, referring to unselfish acts like choosing the smaller cookie or letting someone else go first—intentional efforts to put others ahead of our own desires, even for the little things.
During that time, I was transitioning into a different season of life, physically. There was a lot of personal and family change. There were some unmet expectations. Things that I had always counted on seemed altered, and I sometimes struggled to distinguish perception from reality.
Summer came, and it was hot. I had an infection that required antibiotics, and the medication caused bona-fide insomnia. I’m sure all of that played into my mental state at the time.
I lay on my bed one day, half praying, half processing.
I know I’m supposed to die to myself so that others can live, I thought, but what about me? Do I have to die to myself so others can live even if it seems like nobody is doing that for me? Or at least not doing it in the way that I hoped to see it done that day?
I want to stress that people have died to self for me throughout my life and were continuing to do it even then. Randy, especially, was making significant sacrifices to provide for our family during those rough economic times.
Unfortunately, the changes in my body and mind were playing some serious tricks on me. In the midst of such transition, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of what’s real. Although praying Psalm 43:3—that God would send His light and His truth so they could lead me—helped, I still struggled.
But back to my question: Do I have to die to myself so that others can live even if I think nobody is doing that for me?
I knew the answer, and I didn’t like it.
Then I had a little epiphany.
There I was, having a little pity party because I felt like no one was dying to him- or herself so that I could experience life, when the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart:
“Somebody DID die so you could have life.”
Suddenly, everything I had ever learned about the gospel coalesced into crystal-clear form.
Jesus died so that I could live. And because He died so that I could live, I can die to myself so that others can have life.
He did it all for me. Everything.
Because of His grace, I’m wholly accepted, wholly clean, wholly loved. I belong in His family, forever.
And because of that, I’m free.
Free to give, expecting nothing in return. Free to love even when I don’t feel love back. Free to release others from the burden of meeting needs only God can meet. Free to share my story even if might embarrass me a little bit. Free to invest my life and words into others without fearing rejection or needing affirmation.
Why it took more than three decades to figure this out, I don’t know.
Truth be told, I’m still trying to figure it out.
But that day, something shifted inside my heart. In ways that I find hard to describe, what Jesus did for me—for each one of us—seemed more real, more relevant to my daily life.
He did it all.
And He is enough.
P.S. Linking up this week with Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith, Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory, Lyli Dunbar at #ThoughtProvokingThursday, Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart, Missional Women and Grace & Truth.