Modelling a Life of Selflessness

It wasn’t very long ago when it seemed like everyone was looking out for me. Everywhere I turned, help was available. My parents worked hard to provide for me. I had teachers who cared for my future and took time to ask about my day. I had multiple midwives checking in on my health. I had mentors and church leaders who cared for my emotional and spiritual well being. They would often take the time to stop and ask how I was doing. I had support groups that I didn’t have to lead. I went to prayer meetings that I wasn’t in charge of planning. I didn’t have to host a single event.

I wonder when everything changed?

When did I stop being cared for and start pouring into everyone else?

Have I really acted that independent? Or did I just push the help away?

Will I ever be in a season of being cared for again? And if that season comes knocking, will I welcome it – or resent it?

It’s nice being cared for. But how often we take it for granted!

Yesterday I went to one of the first events since 2020 that I didn’t host or plan.

It was delightful.

I attended the event without needing to clean my house. The picnic shelter was already reserved and set up. I didn’t have to do a thing! The table cloths were neatly put on, the balloons and decorations were up, the coolers of drinks were set out. The food was delivered.

I felt like it was my birthday – it was really my Dad’s.

This morning I woke up and started doing my morning routine when my husband’s smiling face peeked through the door and in his hand was a cup of coffee, just for me, with the words “Thanks Mom” written on the side.

Once again, I felt blessed and cared for.

I began reflecting how, just 16 years ago, this wouldn’t have even felt special to me. People threw parties all the time that I didn’t plan or host. I’d just show up, eat, and leave without giving it a single thought. Breakfast, lunch, and supper were on the table without me ever asking. My clothes were cleaned, my rugs were vacuumed. The money that I needed for events was just handed over. My towels were washed and folded each day. I just had to live according to my own schedule and do whatever I wanted to do each day.

How good and easy I had it – and I didn’t even know!

As a Mom of teens I sometimes worry… Maybe I’ve spoiled them. Maybe I haven’t given them enough responsibility or enough chores. Maybe I do too much for them. Maybe I haven’t taught them to see and care for those around them.

Yet as I was reflecting on this today, it slowly dawned on me: because of the years of benevolence and kindness they’ve been shown, when the time comes for them to serve they will be ready.

It’s been modelled for them. As it was modelled for me.

I saw my parents stop for the poor and offer them food.

They invited strangers into our home and treated them like family.

I saw their kindness and benevolence to those around them: at our church, in our neighbourhood, in their years of volunteering at camp and my school.

I witnessed them caring for us as children and then caring for their own parents as they grew older.

Just as now, my own children have seen me do.

They’ve been cared for all their life – yet it is a season. A short, fleeting season. Someday soon it will also be their turn to take care of everyone around them. They will host. They will plan. They will stop and show kindness to the poor. They will volunteer. They will cook and decorate and clean up the mess.

And then they will understand and appreciate what was done for them.

I know this, because now I am grateful. My parents modelled a life of selflessness to me and in turn, I have been able to do the same for my children.

Thanks Mom and Dad, for all the years you cared for me and for others.

I understand now.