A couple months ago I took a trip with my three-year-old (going on 16) daughter and (at the time) 8 month old son. I knew going into a six-hour long flight with no husband, a toddler, and “lap infant” was going to be a challenge.
My trip was filled with uncharted waters. It wasn’t just for fun, adventure, or to see family, although that was a nice perk. I felt nervous, both about the trip and the reason I was traveling in the first place.
Could I handle two little people in the airport and on the airplane by myself?! What happens when my daughter emotionally breakdown or has to go potty with my arms permanently occupied with bags and a baby?!
And once I get there, how in the world can I stand before a group of 30 some ladies, most older and wiser than me, and speak some profound, new Word from the Lord?!?
My flawed human, default reasoning says, I can’t. Then maybe after convincing myself that I can, my next even more flawed default thought process is, poor me.
Poor me…not the kind based in self pity or lowliness, but the one reeking of pride.
There use to be the “family line” at the terminal gate that would enable the small children and elderly to get on the plane first. Not this trip.
What happened to the society of decent human beings looking out for the more frail among themselves? I’m standing here in a stagnant line, my arm muscles about to fall off (OK maybe not fall off…but they were shaking), amongst the enfranchised youth of America with their noses stuck in a device… What about me? My proud, hardened heart was bubbling and I sensed my eyes starting to glare. Poor me. I should be at the front of the line. I should be first. Me first.
Then I realized something. There have been countless moments in my short years of mothering where I’ve belabored with my kids the importance in putting other’s first.
Whenever I see the nasty me-first head popping up in one of my precious offspring, I take it as a sign to put them last. The first shall be last. Likewise, I try to reward them for an attitude of service and putting other’s first. The last shall be first.
Now here I am, placed in a very uncomfortable situation, the pressure cooker is at a full, rolling boil, and suddenly I become the student. After all, no one forced me to travel alone with kids…why should I be upset at others over my own willful choice?
Alright, Lord… I get it. Attitude adjusted. I’ll be last.
God’s grace is a wonderful thing. With my perspective changed, standing in line wasn’t so bad. In fact, things got quite pleasant! Wouldn’t you know it, people started to notice that I was alone with my blonde little girl, a blue-eyed baby, two shoulders bags and no stroller in sight (yea, the acceptable stroller rules changed since the last time I flew so I couldn’t take it with me).
It was as if my change of heart had a domino effect on the people around me. People were kind. They let us go in front. They were helpful. They noticed. Men carried my bags. Women smiled. Children danced (well, maybe on the inside).
Jesus said, “But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.” (Mark 10) He was speaking to His disciples…those who follow after Him: you and me. And in the verses preceding, Jesus spoke about denying ourselves, our wants and our rights, in this life and how it will bring us great reward in eternity.
Most of us have wised up through the years. We know the kid-like me-first attitude is socially unacceptable. There’s great temptation to inwardly protest in those moments of feeling left out, unappreciated, or serving and never being served. Especially as a mom, our actions shout and if we put ourselves (or OUR family) first the kids will follow suit (hence the entitled, unthankful generation in which we currently live).
When we put ourselves last it’s not a free ticket to the front of the line. No, most of the time it goes unnoticed (which is probably better for us). Deferring ourselves, allowing others the right, waiting, serving… it’s not a means of manipulation. Rather, it establishes honor and respect to our name and the Lord’s. It evidences love and grace fueled by the Spirit. It admonishes those still wrapped up in their own endeavors to take notice of others.
In this day and season where the most popular vote goes to ME, may we be actively looking for ways to serve, to go last, and in the process, honor the God that makes it all possible.
“With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27)