Confronting My Selfishness

I’ve been reading a book by Jeremy Kingsley called Be Last (for an upcoming blog tour) during my quiet time in the morning. Yesterday, these words caught my attention:

“We naturally pursue what we think makes life best for us, and we react negatively when someone or something gets in the way.”

I periodically struggle with getting angry with my daughter and reacting to her negatively by raising my voice (read: yelling), snatching offending items away, or just overreacting. I’ve really been bothered by where these intense emotions are coming from. I don’t consider myself to be an “angry person.” I don’t have major trauma or unresolved hurts in my past. So what’s the source?

As I’ve prayed about it and searched my heart, I realize it’s exactly what Kingsley says. I’m a selfish person. It frustrates me when things don’t go my way or people don’t do what I want. And through a 2.5-year-old with a mind of her own and in a stage where she’s testing lots of all of her boundaries, I am confronted with my self-centeredness yet again. Rather than seeing the opportunity to teach her, I’m provoked to anger at the inconvenience.

Kingsley later prompts us to ask ourselves these questions:

  • How have I defended my own reputation today?
  • What was the last desire I fulfilled?
  • Whose needs were most important in the last decision I made?

Defend my reputation? That’s a whole other post. Today, I’m really challenged by the last question. Am I considering my daughter’s need to be trained, to be considered, to be heard? Or am I just focused on my desire to get what I want done, when I want to get it done?

And of course, all this trickles over into every other relationship in my life.

Ugh! So much work to be done on this little heart. I’m so thankful that the Holy Spirit will clean it up if I will yield it to him.

Lord, help me to understand in a tangible way what it means to love others as well as I love myself. Let me recognize the times my own selfishness is being challenged, and teach me to react in humility and grace rather than out of anger.

How about you? Does one of those questions strike a chord with you?



  1. This is the biggest lesson I’m learning in marriage–my selfishness. Three years into it, and I feel like I’m getting more selfish by the day. The other day, Chris asked me to do something, and my first reaction was, but I have all of my stuff to do!
    And like you, the concept of defending my reputation would take not just a comment, not just a post, but an entire blog unto itself.

  2. Your post rings true in my life as well. But as far as the questions I think the second one is really a struggle for me right now.

    The flesh cries out in so many ways and when I get one under control (for the moment), another springs up!

    I find that I am often motivated by desires that are strong in one moment, but if not served on a whim, will subside. Unfortunately, it is not often that I choose to wait.

    This happened yesterday at the Target! After I told myself that I was going to try to say no to myself this week! Especially knowing that i was feeling stressed and that shopping would be so filling to the flesh!

    I love to shop (and am usually pretty self controlled in this area), but during stress I tend to use it as a means of “de-stressing”.

    This book sounds interesting, I look forward to reading more about it during your blog tour!

  3. There is no doubt that parenting pushes you to your limits. If you didn’t know you had any, well, this is where you find them, right? Keep in mind that all of us face the same thing. You’re just brave enough to write about it, a thing for which I am thankful

  4. This is tough stuff. My selfishness scares me at times because I don’t have someone showing me on a daily basis how much it has gotten out of check (unless of course I ask the Lord to show me, which I don’t ask very often). Lots of stuff to think about here. Especially after recently thinking about how much I like to control my calendar and do what I want when I want.

  5. That last question really strikes a chord with me too. Thanks so much for making me think about my decisions from that perspective!

  6. spaghettipie

    Thanks so much to all of you who commented and shared some wonderful thoughts and insights.

    H – Yea, when I got married I went through this too. Little did I know that parenthood brings it all up again . . . and sometimes to a greater degree.
    K – ah, that flesh! I friend of mine gave me a great word picture for cycle of growth and rehashing. I think I’ll share it in the next post!
    RLP – Thank you so much for the kind words. It’s always good to be reminded that “no temptation has seized us except what is common to man . . .”
    A – I think God refining our selfishness is the story of our entire lives – single, married, with or without kids. Isn’t that the opposite of love?
    G – I’m so glad you stopped by today. 🙂

  7. Wow, whose needs were the most important in the last decision you made really sliced my heart. I am so glad that we are “works in progress” and never done. The more God works on me, the more I realize how much more still needs to be done. Thanks for sharing your quiet time with us, these are questions I too shall confront prayerfully.

  8. D'Ann

    A friend and I have discussed for years (read: since we had children) that perhaps this is really what the Lord meant by women being “saved through childbearing.” They definitely force us to work out our salvation! We are forced to confront our selfishness. We are placed in a crucible to be conformed to the image of the Christ. Of course, we can choose to submit or rebel, but either way can be a painful process. And every time I think I’ve mastered my selfishness in this area, even a little bit, it raises its ugly head again each time my children head into a new stage of life and need me in a different way.

  9. spaghettipie

    KS – I’m glad you found some encouragement, and thanks for stopping by!

    D – Oh, I love that insight. You are so right that part of the blessing of being a parent is being refined in this way.

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