I should've died on October 12th, 1989. But when you're 12 years old, you don't fully understand what it means to die. And you certainly don't understand what it means to choose to die... daily. Does that mean that I was too young or uninformed to do what I did that day? Was I not ready to make the decision to follow Christ? I don't think it means that at all. But it does mean that 21 years later I am still dying a slow, slow, painful death.
My open ended obituary would read a little bit like this:
Jenny Elizabeth Dixon
(1977 - )
Jenny Elizabeth Dixon died a little bit when she chose to follow Christ in 1989. She died a little more when she said "I do" to her amazing husband on May 24th, 1997 - making her a wife. She died further in September of 2000 when she gave birth to her first son, Noah - making her a mother. She died a little more when she gave birth to Micah 5 years later. And still more when her first daughter, Sophia, came along. Her most recent experience with death occurred when she added precious little Selah to her family in June of 2011.
You may be thinking I have an awfully grim attitude about what I should consider to be the 6 happiest days of my life. And were they ever happy days! Each occasion brought extreme joy, but each of these occasions also brought necessary death. Of course it's the kind of death that I'm grateful for, but no kind of death is ever easy.
Being a wife and a mom to 4 incredible kids is certainly not what I would call easy. It's wonderful, a privilege, a blessing.... but not easy. But do you know what makes it even tougher? Trying to do it alive.
These are the thoughts that run through my mind during a typical day:
"These people are killing me."
"I'm dying here!"
and on my most defeated of days - "Somebody please shoot me."
I don't know who I'm talking to when I utter these
and other things under my breath, but a few days ago I felt I was actually receiving a reply. It was as if a chuckling voice from heaven said, "You know, they couldn't kill you if you were already dead."
And I just can't stop thinking about this. All this time I've thought my kids were killing me, but could it be that what's really killing me is the fact that I refuse to die? Because aren't the things about my kids that nearly "kill" me really about ME. Because waking up to a baby laying in poop up to her neck is not the first thing that I want to see or smell in the morning. Because listening to a 3 year old whining ALL DAY LONG hurts my ears and gets on my nerves. And because I don't have time to wait on a 5 year old who is staging a sit-in to protest the putting on of clothes because it's gonna make me late. Because the fact that my 10 year old still has to be reminded of the most basic manners and rules of life makes me feel like I went wrong somewhere and I don't like feeling like a failure..... This is obviously the short list.
These things couldn't kill me if I were already dead.
He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 2 Corinthians 5:15
Isn't it my sin of selfishness and my failure to really die that gives me that "I'm dying here" feeling?
For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. Romans 6:7-8
Mothers of young children get lots of advice about how we need to make time for ourselves, have a hobby, get a pedicure, have a girls night out, get away for a weekend, take a break, etc.... And these are all great ideas. I've done them all and I don't regret it for a second :). But no one has ever given me this advice:
"You know, you should really just go ahead and die. You will find so much more joy in being a mother and a wife if you just go ahead and die to yourself and focus on being Christ to your family. Stop wasting your energy wishing you could get more sleep, eat a meal in peace, and pee without an audience. Stop being bitter about the fact that you don't get half the respect or appreciation you deserve and just find joy in the serving. Stop counting down the hours until bedtime so that you can resuscitate yourself. Just do yourself a favor and go ahead and die."
That's what I think I need to hear. Because I don't have to be reminded of the other things. My selfish nature will always be screaming for the breaks and the nights out and the "me time". And I will take and appreciate the breaks when they're available. (I'm actually currently accepting pedicure gift certificates.) I just can't help but feeling that even though I don't think it's wrong at all for me have some "time to myself", I sure would love to be so dead that I didn't even need it.
I guess it's fear that keeps me from being willing to die. Because isn't this death to self in many ways so much scarier than physical death? And isn't it because we're asked to LIVE this death? Do I avoid this death because I've failed to remember that the same truth that keeps me from fearing physical death should also give me peace about this living death to self?
For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. Colossians 3:3-4
I will share in Christ's glory? Really? I know that's worth dying for. So why is it so hard?
Yes, my desire is to eventually have all poop contained in toilets. My goal is to teach Sophia that whining is an ineffective method of communication. I certainly hope I can teach Micah that appropriate clothing is a necessary part of life. I pray that Noah leaves our home knowing how to love and treat others. But this I know: Jesus working through my death to self and his resulting life in me will accomplish these and all things so much better than I ever could accomplish them on my own. So... I will continue striving for death. And besides, there's no way I'm giving my kids the satisfaction of doing me in :).