Having a child rewires the way you think. For example, in the past I always looked forward to traveling anywhere. I enjoy exploring new places, trying new foods, and meeting new people. But with a baby, I am not as excited to travel. What am I going to do if he doesn’t stop screaming on the plane ride? Maybe we should just shoot him up with Benadryll or have some goodie bags ready for the other guests to apologize for our screaming baby. These are the thoughts that swirl in my mind. Instead of thinking, “I can’t wait to go to socal,” it is “how is Zachary going to handle adjusting to a new environment with different weather?” (Next week my family will be in Los Angeles so Zachary can meet both sides of our family. Although I have a lot of concerns, I am excited about this trip because this is the first time Zachary will meet many of his relatives on both sides of the family).
I am often asked how it is to be a new father, and it is difficult for me to explain my experience. On the one hand, it is an absolute joy. Everyday is unpredictable and Zachary gives me so much joy. On the other hand, there is a sense of loss. I have lost a part of myself. I had to die to my desire to have my personal time. I had to die to going out and watching a movie. I had to die to my personal time with Susan. I had to change my prayers and my future plans in life. In other words, I had to die to my selfishness. If I focus on what I have lost then it can become a little depressing. But as any parent would tell you, that sense of loss pales in comparison to the joy that comes when you die to yourself in order to live for your children. Doesn’t the joy of parenthood outweigh the loss of your previous life?
I experienced the same conflicting feelings when I first got married. On the one hand, it is an absolute joy to be married. On the other hand, there is a sense of loss. I have lost a part of myself. I had to die to my desire to be a slob and make a mess in the house. I had to die to having my free time to do whatever I want. I had to die to the convenience of eating instant ramen everyday. I had to die to the single life. In other words, I had to die to my selfishness. It is uncomfortable at times and it can be overwhelming to let go of your ego in order to live for your spouse. But as any happily married person would tell you, that sense of loss pales in comparison to the joy that comes when you die to yourself in order to live for your spouse. Yes, you will lose your personal space, your free time, your dating life, etc. But you gain your best friend. You gain your partner for life. Doesn’t the joy of marriage outweigh the loss of your single life?
I think the struggle for many Christians today is that we focus on what we will lose if we follow after Jesus. We are afraid of losing ourselves. We are resistant to killing our selfishness. It might cost some of us our reputation because we will be viewed as narrow-minded. It might cost some of us our career advancement because we do not want to compromise our morals in order to get ahead in life. It might cost some of us our relationships because we are on a different life path as those who are not following Jesus. It might cost some of us our comforts because we are now invested in the kingdom of God rather than the American Dream. And when we focus on what we will lose, the Christian life can be depressing.
Just like being a parent or getting married, if you only focus on what you will lose, then it will not be worth your time. However, if you focus on what you will gain, or the joy that will come in losing yourself, you will see that following Jesus will be your greatest joy in life. You will gain your best friend. You will gain the greatest counselor. You will gain the king of all kings. You will gain the savior of this world. You will gain a new life. You will gain a new purpose. You will gain a new family. You will be empowered to love others. You will be empowered to die to yourself. And as any Christian will tell you, that sense of loss pales in comparison to the joy that comes when you die to yourself and live for Jesus. Doesn’t the joy of following Jesus outweigh the loss of yourself? If you haven’t experienced this joy yet, then visit us at The Bridge to see what you have been missing out. You don’t need to take my word, come see for yourself that life is only worth living when you die to yourself and live for Christ. As Jesus said in John 7:37–38 – “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”