I was going to post some more Vienna talk today, but I made a quick change of plans because I have something different to say.
Growing up, dying to self was key. In case you’re not familiar with this specific descriptions, it basically means giving everything that’s “you” up in order to serve selflessly in any way possible. Sounds good huh? But it’s not. Dying to self is something you can take very literal. You will die in every way possible in order to be someone you’re not.
Some people don’t seem to bother that much, but it’s always been hard for me to be as selfless as I was expected to be. You see, I’m a very private, calm, introvert kind of person. Though I grew up in a big family, I always liked being alone. I’m not much of a team player, I prefer doing things all by myself. I didn’t hate having a big family where there was always somebody, quite the opposite, I loved it. But I always tried to make room for myself in some way. That didn’t mean that I wanted to do things I liked, it was more like just being by myself doing ANYTHING really. I hated washing dishes. I loved doing it alone. I didn’t like vacuuming. It was ok as long as I was alone. Everything I didn’t like in a group I usually liked if I could just do it by myself. I treasured the quiet moments, though my hands were busy, my mind was free to wander, not occupied by yet another conversation, prayer, training or anything like that. I loved asking myself the WEIRDEST questions. Like, is it possible that when you’re 9 months pregnant and you use the bathroom, could it just “fall out”? What would you do if that happened? Would the pain of hours of labor be condensed in that short moment or or or…? It really didn’t have anything to do with faith in those moments.
Now my Dad was eager to teach all of us, especially the girls, that dying to self is key to life and salvation. You weren’t allowed to do anything fun, you were asked to serve others every moment of your life. If you didn’t listen to him, he’d have a speech prepared. “It always about ME ME ME. Do you think Jesus was like that? Do you think he would have died on the cross for us if he cared about himself? NO! He would have hidden somewhere and lived happily ever after! He wasnt about ME. So why are YOU?” and so on. I felt really bad every time I heard that. I started wondering if Jesus could even love me if I kept acting like this. I tried to train myself. I didn’t allow myself to do things alone. When I had to wash dishes, I called one of my smaller sisters over to help me, to teach her to be a servant and a good housewife. How to keep things in order. When I was working in the garden, I asked my brothers to do boy stuff, like carrying the heavy water buckets for me. I desperately waited for God to reward my selflessness. I gave up what I liked in order to feel as good as the people who kept raving about how great it feels to be selfless, how God rewards you for it. But I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel any different at all except that I was more stressed out than ever.
Prayer time was the only occasion I allowed myself to be alone. I sat down in our infamous prayer closet and opened my bible. But after a day of constant conversation, I didn’t feel like talking to God or being talked to by him. I started reading a chapter and within seconds, though my eyes were reading, my mind didn’t understand a word. I switched the chapter. And the same thing happened again. And again. And again. I closed my bible and folded my hands across my face. Ok I though, I’ll pray some. And in my mind I said “Lord… tell me what to say.” Silence, emptiness of mind. “I don’t know what to tell you.” More silence. My mind started telling me that I needed to do this, I needed to do SOMETHING. I though that was God speaking to me and I couldn’t stand a single word he said. “Be quiet.” I told him. And the voices in my head started rushing with hate and anger and disappointment. How dare you talk to me like that? Pray now, pray now, pray now, or read some more. You can’t sit in your little puddle of selfishness now. And I grew angrier and angrier with the God who hated me so much for wanting a few minutes of peace and silence. “Shut up!” I said over and over until I started crying. I cried myself empty just to realize that my time in the prayer closet was over.
As I stood up, all I could think was “Great job, idiot, time well used.” The amount of shame and hate for myself was so big that I obsessively started being as selfless as I could for the rest of the day. This wasnt something that happened every day, but it happened on many days.
Right now, I’m sitting here in complete silence. I’m all alone, doing stuff by myself. I’m selfish. I’m detestable. I’m lost. And I like it. God is quiet, he doesn’t bother me with his voices anymore. I now will go into the kitchen and have a coffee in complete silence, closing my eyes and enjoying nothingness. And I know that God will still be quiet.