I recently had an inspiring conversation around a table with fellow Christian church leaders in Warrenville–many from different traditions than mine.  One lady, who attends a local Greek Orthodox church, shared how her marriage vows–pledged years ago–have stuck with her ever since–that she always remembers her vows included a pledge to “die to herself” that day–for both the sake of her husband and her God.

While I think I understood this idea in my head when I got married, I probably didn’t know how hard it would be to practice all these 13 years.

You can pretty much count on the fact that when I’ve hurt my wife with my words or actions–it’s because I’m being selfish–that I’m not dying to myself in that moment–in fact, I’m slyly (or brazenly…) renegotiating my covenant with her as her husband.

As Lent continues, I’m not only thinking about dying to myself in my marriage but dying to myself for Christ as His disciple, as Paul says, “that Christ might live in me.” (Galatians 2:19-20). How are you choosing to die to yourself every day as a pattern of your everyday life–and not just for Lent?

Many of the choices I make to be a devoted follower of Christ are costly, painful and unpopular.

Like the frequent conversations I’ve been having lately with my daughter about her feeling different or that “she doesn’t fit in” with her friends at school because she chooses to listen to different music than they do; or that she can’t watch the same  movies at home that they do; or surf YouTube without content filtering, etc, etc.  She often says that the part of her day she most intensely feels this awkwardness is the bus ride to and from school. It hurts me as her dad to see her in pain like this.  But I’m not surprised; nor will I apologize for creating these painful/counter-cultural boundaries in her life.

So what are some of the ways you choose to die in your everyday life?

  • When I regularly think about ways to persist in helping my kids memorize our Lenten memory passage from Philippians 2:5-11 instead of talking about more mundane things around the dinner table…I die to myself.
  • When I remember to keep my commitments to trade off a monthly date night by watching another couple’s kids so they can get away as husband and wife and then return the favor for Karyn and I…I die to myself.
  • When I take time to walk in my neighborhood to pray for my neighbors to come to know Jesus through my living example–even when the weather stinks…I die to myself.
  • When I take the time to regularly prioritize time in the bible to have God’s Word read me…I die to myself.
  • When I give away my money to someone more needy than me…I die to myself.

I’ve  been in the habit of quoting C.S. Lewis poetry lately in my blog:  he wrote a lot about his own pain, loss and dying to self, including this one titled Scazons

But Thou, Lord, surely knowest thine own plan
When the angelic indifferencies with no bar
Universally loved, but Thou gav’st man
The tether and pang of the particular,

Which, like a chemic drop, infinitesimal,
Plashed into pure water, changing the whole,
Embodies and embitters and turns all
Spirit’s sweet water into astringent soul,

That we, though small, might quiver with Fire’s same
Substantial form as Thou–not reflect merely
Like lunar angels back to Thee cold flame.
Gods are we, Thou has said; and we pay dearly.