A few weeks ago, all I wanted to do was surf. It had been a while, but a friend invited me out and so the prospect was there. A couple contingencies blocked my path though: my oldest daughter needed to be napping and my youngest needed to stay quiet while she was napping. As my wife and I rocked our youngest to sleep, watching another episode of Fixer Upper, I kept a keen eye on the clock, knowing my friend was paddling out at 4pm and that it was already past 3. Unfortunately, the television could not drown out the sound of both my daughters crying as the sweet possibility of surfing was slipping away before my eyes.
I tried hard to not let my hopes get up for a surf session. When that was becoming less possible, I tried hard to let go of those hopes. But I found myself doing anything but. Downright anxious, all I wanted was for the kids to be quiet so I had a good excuse to go surfing. It was consuming me, making me angry, irritable, no fun to be around. My desire to surf had won out against logic, emotion and even love.
Eventually things quieted down and I did get to go surfing, but as I drove to the beach, I couldn't help by feel ashamed of my behavior and attitude, and so I decided something had to change. All of the irritation going along with a simple want actually decreased the overall enjoyment of the thing I wanted.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (2 Peter 1:5-7)
Being a father means abandoning the self for the sake of others, but our natural tendency is to hold on to whatever we can. The more kids you have, the less self you have to hold on to. Losing control of the time you once enjoyed and took for granted, you're practically forced into selflessness. But what happens when our body kicks back and we fight for what we want? Are we supposed to just make ourselves less selfish? I think that's where that last verse in 2 Peter helps.
Start with faith...a saving faith in Christ and faith that God is working on us through his Spirit. That leads to virtues such as patience, love and goodness. Add to that knowledge...knowing the scriptures and what God wants to make us into as well as his power to do so. All of that together leads to self-control when we get in these situations and, as those situations becoming increasingly difficult, long-suffering kicks in. Ultimately we become more like Christ, which finds its culmination in loving others.
It's a long road, but at least we're given clear steps to take. Always remember though, this doesn't start with our own ability, but rather faith.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Consequently, I just wrote a song with the same title and decided to shoot a little video for a blog post with the lyrics. Check it out here!