I am blogging my way through the Beatitudes over the next week or so as I meditate and reflect on my new role as caregiver as my wife and I journey together with her cancer treatments. My hope is that as I go through this list of joys and promises in my own personal journey that others will find the same hope I do.
It almost seems hypocritical to be writing a blog about being meek. Blogging is all about calling attention to yourself, getting readership, getting your “message” out there. And meekness? “Self-effacing” is one synonym. “Humble” is another. It certainly does not go along with the world of social media and the blogosphere to espouse “meekness” as a virtue.
But as a caregiver, it is something we are called to do. I have found it to be an absolute necessity to set aside my own desires, my own wishes, my own preferences in order to care for my wife. When she was recovering from the lumpectomy, the things that I wanted for my own comfort and such took back burner in order to make sure she was taken care of well enough to recover quickly. And, to be honest, this was a struggle at times. My needs necessarily took second place. While I felt tired and worn out sometimes, it was a necessary thing and a labor of love to set aside myself for her. And, as the chemo regimen approaches in our near future, I know this will need to be my attitude again.
This is meekness. This is what Jesus was talking about. In fact, of anyone in the history of the world, Jesus embodied this. Everything he did was sacrificially done for the good of others, his own needs taking second place. He was always stopping and talking to people; healing blind beggars on his way to someplace “important”; and bending down, both literally and figuratively, to serve those whom society had set aside as inconsequential. Don’t get me wrong, my wife is anything BUT inconsequential to me. But the attitude of putting her first, above everything else, is modeled by Jesus. Biblical meekness isn’t letting yourself be a doormat. It is about loving someone so much that you completely forget yourself in the process. Philippians 2:3-4 describes it like this:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
This is not easy to do all the time. And it does get wearying, especially for an introvert like myself. To find joy in this time of submission is a challenge at times. So, again, we turn to the Beatitude for the promise. Jesus tells his listeners that the meek will inherit the earth. To be honest, I don’t want the planet. You can keep it, dirty ball of rock that it is. What good does a planet do me?
I did a quick check and what Jesus says is actually almost a word for word verse from the 37th Psalm.
But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. Psalm 37:11 ESV
That Psalm talks about enemies and about conquering and so on. Obviously, my wife is not the enemy so how can I talk about submitting to the enemy so that, in the future, I’ll have abundant peace?
But what if the enemy is myself, my own warring desires? What if that is where the true battle is? The cancer battle is a battle of flesh and blood, doctors and nurses, medicines and technology. I can’t fight that battle. I’m not qualified. For me, as a caregiver, I have a battle of my heart and spirit that I’m fighting. In my last two articles I talked about being poor in spirit and about mourning the losses that I’m facing and will face. These are also battles of the heart. Are these battles, though, that I can win on my own?
The answer is no. That Psalm talks about living faithfully to God, committing to His ways, living a righteous live before Him. But it is God who will win the battle, not me. When it is all said and done, once the battle is won, then I will receive a peace that passes understanding. I can’t win the fight. So, instead of fighting, I simply submit. I take on an attitude of meekness and humility, submitting not just to the needs of my wife, but submitting my own life to God’s purposes and principles. I need to hand over those warring desires to God, give them over to him, confess that I cannot do it on my own, and let God take care of it. This is what will bring that “pure joy” that James talks about concerning our trials.
I love my wife deeply, passionately, and utterly. My own desires I cannot hold on to any more. Meekness is my model, given to me by Jesus. I give over my desires to Him, no longer holding on to them myself, and trust Jesus to fill me with contentment and peace as I give my wife all the love, all the attention, all the service that my body can perform. In the end, when the battles are done, both those warred out in her body, and those warred out in my soul, she and I can sit back and enjoy the abundant peace that comes from doing what God has asked of us.
1) Sit down in the quiet somewhere and spend time going over all your desires, all the things you wish you could be doing, and pray a prayer of confession to God. Give each and everyone of them over to him, asking him to conquer them in your soul, and to give you that peace that comes from doing what is right. Believe me, this is an amazing experience to be able to just let it all go. You may need to do it more than once, but each time there is that sense of peace and joy that comes along with it.
2) Read Psalm 37, but instead of looking at it as external enemies, look at it as your selfish side warring with your loving side. Meditate on what God promises to do for those who live rightly and center those promises in your life.
3) Speak words of love to your loved one, frequently, constantly, often. My wife is an independent sort and does not want to be an imposition or a burden on me. She needed to know that everything I was doing, as inconvenient as it may have seemed, I did out of love for her. Every fibre of my being is dedicated to loving her in the best way that I can. Tell your loved one this in words. Your actions certainly play it out, but sometimes they need to know that there is a deep love there so that they can also enjoy that abundant peace that comes through meekness.