For the last few weeks I've felt this giant propensity towards selfishness. The culture of Bolivia requires a person to greet every person in a room upon entering and say good bye to every one of them upon leaving. It requires a polite American to spend 30 minutes making small talk with the parents of her student so that she can get to the point. In the upper-class environment that I work in, it also means that if a parent has a problem with my teaching, he or she goes to the director of the school before letting me know that anything is wrong. The missionaries here are so thinly stretched (SEND MORE WORKERS, GOD) that I feel so involved in side ministries that there is hardly time for teaching-- a tendency that already comes much too easily to me.
Also, it is so HOT here! It makes me cranky sometimes.
These stretches on my time, my body, my personality, and my pride make me want to hole myself up in my room, make me want to escape to familiarity, make me want to daydream of the life I could be living in the US this year, make me want to treat those around me like I don't care about them. I was feeling so burdened by the weight of my sinful selfishness that in desperation I cried out to God, "If you say that 'my yolk is easy and my burden is light' then why do I feel heavy and like everything is a struggle?!?" He answered me in three ways.
First, He says that His yolk is easy and burden light when we come to Him. I was neglecting to do that in my moments of being lost in teaching or overwhelmed by ministry.
Second, a good friend and fellow (veteran) teacher reminded me that what I'm feeling is normal for someone in their first 1-5 months in a new country. Yes, there are times when I need to fight the temptation to be selfish, but there are also times when I need to also realize why I'm feeling selfish and see what I can do to understand the situations that I'm in (or give up trying to understand them).
Finally, we have in our sin nature a tendency to make ourselves first and most important. In my study of Philippians, God has reminded me that, as I help myself through this transition, I also must look to the interests of others. I have to fight this desire to withdraw, knowing that at the root of it is me trying to make myself most important.
I had lost my desire to serve, my desire to worship in joyful action. I praise God that He is beginning to show me how to recover those desires.
Tonight I learned that we're singing Onward Christian Soldier (in Spanish) in church tomorrow. "Hell's foundations quiver at the shout of praise" It is God's work and our praise of it that will eradicate this sin at its core. May I be in such praise of Him that there is no room left for sin in me.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.