My devotional this morning was on a topic that I am all too familiar with–humility. Sometimes it is so easy for us to claim that we practice humility and put others before ourselves. After all, is there anyone who is proud to say, “I could care less about the next person and simply want to spend my life achieving my own agenda“? If that’s you, I’ll kindly send a prayer your way! But back to the topic at hand, humility. How can one who is constantly battling their own demons, struggling day-to-day, and consistently trying to make it through the next 1/2 hour capable of stepping outside of themselves and serving others?
As I lay in my bed reading about His love and how His sacrifice should motivate us to sacrifice ourselves for others, I reflected back to my time in Graduate School. Oh man, Brooklyn College really put me and my cohort through it! There were endless days when I would just sulk and wallow in my own misery. Forget about it if it was that time of the month and my hormones were beyond out of whack! I’d cry about absolutely anything and everything–work, the weather, the paper due next Friday, my medication…even stretch marks! That last one really brought me back to a particular conversation that I had with a close friend during our evening class. I could not for the life of me stop complaining about life. At that moment in time, everything about life was unfair to me. Having this diagnosis and still having to act like everything was okay, working and going to school full-time, and if I had to see another newly developed stretch mark, I was going to lose it! After venting to my friend, she simply turned to me and said, “Joe…things could be so much worse.”
Her words stopped me in my tracks and forced me to take a closer look at my attitude and the way in which I was perceiving my current situation. I was thinking all about me. Everything that was coming out of my mouth fueled a selfish demeanor that was unrepresentative of my true character. Work was absolutely insane and my responsibilities were gradually increasing. But hey, I had a job! My Lupus made it so difficult to perform my duties both at school and at work. But hey, I had life, along with a handful of professors and administrators that genuinely cared about my well-being and provided me with flexibility around my submission dates. I lost and gained weight again causing me to develop new stretch marks on top of the ones that I already had. But hey, I’m beautiful inside and out so all of that stressing about my appearance should be irrelevant.
Later that same week, I met a young lady from church who’d just been diagnosed with Lupus. This was new for me because I’d never interacted with someone who was going through the same struggle as myself. Unfortunately, her struggle was much tougher than mine. Her Lupus caused her to lose her hair. The steroids caused her to gain weight, and in some ways, become unrecognizable to the people who knew her prior to her diagnosis. She was hospitalized for an extended period of time, until her Lupus was maintained. She was also much younger than me (still in high school), and needed assistance walking from one end of the room to another. She reminded me so much of myself when I’d first begun this journey, as well as how far I’d come thanks to God’s grace!
The experience of being an “all about me kid” and interacting with someone who had greater worries to tackle than myself, all in the same week, is one of the strongest recollections that I have of the importance of humility. In that week, I was reminded that it isn’t all about me. As difficult as things may seem in the moment, there is always someone out there in a more challenging situation. It is important that we take the time to step outside of ourselves and think about our neighbor rather than focusing on our own needs. In some instances this may involve an act of kindness and/or giving. Sometimes a phone call or text message (this is what I did) is enough to brighten someone’s spirits.
As difficult as it can be, I challenge you to forget about yourself for a moment and think about what battles one of your loved ones (or even a stranger) may be presently facing. Refrain from taking the route of simply reflecting and saying a prayer wishing them well. Instead, reflect on their situation and make all efforts to serve that person. It doesn’t even have to cost you a penny! Our acts of hospitality is all that’s needed to reflect His love.
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If you know anyone suffering with Lupus and/or any other “Invisible Disease”, please feel free to share with them directly!