A few weeks ago while I was in Kansas City I visited my sister’s church for the sacrament of Confession. There the priest handed out little rubbery bracelets to those of us waiting. My niece and I sat together in the pew wondering if he would hand us one. There were white ones and purple ones. He looked at me, smiled, and then handed me a white one. I read it. I smiled to myself. A tear formed in the corner of my eye and knew that God was indeed talking to me. The words inscribed said, “Stay Strong”. It was definitely a message I needed to hear after a very long and heart-wrenching week. I put the bracelet on and ran my fingers over the words many times through the day.
The following morning my children and I attended Mass with my sister and her family. At the end of Mass we noticed the priest had put both white and purple bracelets beside the doors in baskets. I decided I wanted to see what the purple bracelet said too. As we walked out the door at the end of Mass I stopped and picked up a bracelet. Upon reading the inscription I knew I needed one of them as well… maybe even more so than the white bracelet that encouraged me to stay strong.
“Get Over Yourself” it read. Get. over. yourself. Actually it screamed at me- GET OVER YOURSELF! I put the bracelet on my wrist and ran my fingers over the words. Throughout the day I would glance down at my hands, see the purple ring slung around my wrist and whisper the words under my breath… get over yourself. I knew it needed to become my personal motto.
It seems lately that I have been giving into the notion that perhaps my needs are more important than others. I’ve been lazy. I’ve been whiny. I’ve been not the mother, wife, and friend I should be. I was feeling run down and broken. I would question, “Why should I have to take on so much?” “ Why do I have to do this again?” “Why me, Lord? It’s always me!” It was affecting everything I was doing (or not doing really). I knew something needed to change but I was stuck in a rut and couldn’t figure how to get out of it. And then I saw those words- Get Over Yourself. A light came on and I felt immediately ashamed. Yes, I needed to get over myself.
But how do we do this? How do we get over putting ourselves above others? Simple, we begin to put others first. We become servants of the Lord and servants of those He puts in our lives. I’m not talking about servitude in the sense of waiting on others hand and foot, responding to a ringing bell, and saying “Why yes mam.” No, I mean looking at our everyday duties and responsibilities and doing them to the best of our ability. I mean serving our little ones with a love in our heart that is reflected in how we speak to them; it’s in how we cuddle them; it’s in how we give them a bath or feed them dinner; it’s patience in answering the same question 13 times in an hour. It’s serving our spouses with an open heart and a smile on our faces. It’s listening with understanding and being there in the moment- not being distracted by the computer, phone, or television. It’s relieving them of worries and taking our time to make sure they are happy. It’s asking our friends if they need help, do they need a shoulder to cry on, or what can we do to make their life a little easier. It’s sharing in their happiness and crying in sorrow with them. It’s making time in spite of our busy lives just to reconnect with them.
Ultimately, getting over yourself means becoming a servant of the Lord. It is opening your life to His will. It’s answering His call and saying to Him, “As you wish, my Lord.” We need to remember that God is in control and when we give ourselves over to Him He will transform us. He will soften our hardened hearts and He will give us strength to get through each day. As servants of God we are often called to do the hard work, the dirty work. It will challenge us and there will be times we feel defeated. But there will also be times when it will uplift us and inspire us. However, it is only through complete trust in Him that we are able to complete this work.
In Matthew 20: 26-28 we read, “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” If Christ came to serve others shouldn’t that be our clue that we are called to serve as well? When we begin to serve God and serve others, especially with an open and happy heart, we soon find that there is no more room for worrying about “me”.
But you may be asking yourself, “But what about me? What about my needs? Aren’t I important too?” The answer is yes, you are important as are your needs. However, the paradox of putting God and others before yourself is that when we do this others begin to put us first in their lives. But how can this be? Christ tells us in Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure- pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Christ tells us that when we care for others our needs will in turn be taken care of as well!
It’s hard to give up ourselves for others. We worry that in the process we will lose ourselves. In fact, the opposite is true. When we give up ourselves we in turn find our true selves. We allow God to transform us into better people. We see His light reflected in our words and actions. We see His love in all we do. When we live for God and for others we experience a love like no other.
Get over yourself- three little words that can transform your life. I am trying my best to live these words. I am trying my best to remember that when I serve God and others my life is infinitely better than when I try to serve my own needs and wants. Still, it can be a struggle when I feel like no one notices or appreciates my gift of self. But despite the struggle it is so worth the effort. If we remain dedicated to serving God and serving others we stand to reap what we sow- that is a love that knows no bounds and that will sustain us through the best and worst days of our lives.