Is the fear of being selfish holding you back from your dreams and desires?
I grew up in a family of 6 kids. Mostly, it was great fun having all those siblings to play with! But, like all families, we had our own culture. We loved to eat exotic foods, sing and dance, put on plays and go on adventures in the acres of fruit trees behind our yard.
But there was one part of our family dynamics that hindered me in achieving my dreams or moving forward in life, and that is the fear of being selfish, or being perceived as selfish. As a coach, helping people achieve extraordinary results and magnificent lives, I see this a lot!
I get it. I really do.
In our family of 8, “what’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is yours,” was a family motto. Now that sounds happy and a good community model, but if you violated that rule, then there was hell to pay. Sometimes it was a heavy handed whack, but always it was the dreaded, “You’re SO SELFISH!!” accusation with a scornful look to follow.
Being selfish in our family was probably the most horrid thing you could be. To do things on your own or want things for yourself was unthinkable.
I loved clothes. My sisters also clothes, especially mine. Often my favorite items would be found “mysteriously” missing. No one seemed to know where they went. After a while, I would find them balled up on the floor under the bed or in a corner, often stretched out or in need of deep fumigation from some one’s excessive body odor! If I complained, there was no remedy. Just, “Quit being so SELFISH!”
The threat of being called selfish was an effective way to control us, and we all wielded that hammer effectively. Tattle tellers could win the day by one little phrase… “Mom!!! She’s being selfish!” In fact, any time you didn’t do what someone wanted, you ran the risk of being called selfish. And that happened daily.
Up until I was about 13, I accepted my role as chief babysitter, peace maker, and boo-boo fixer. But once I hit my teens, I wanted some peace, just a little time to myself, (well, probably a lot of time to myself). To get it, I had to hide out in a closet and pray no one would find me so I wouldn’t get punished for… being selfish.
At 17 I left home to go to school, and I went far away. I felt so selfish. I left my siblings at home with so much turmoil from my parents’ on again, off again marriage, which ultimately ended in divorce. There was so much drama in my family, and I felt intense responsibility to either fix it or soothe it, but I inherently knew that if I didn’t get away, I would forever be sucked into the black hole of no return and never fulfill my dreams.
Did my family think I abandoned them? Did they think I was being selfish? Maybe. But I didn’t need anyone else’s opinion at that point… the voice of accusation was already firmly planted in me. The guilt was haunting.
Stepping out and pursuing our dreams can trigger the fear of selfishness within, often unknowingly. Some of our dreams and desires are so wild and lofty that we keep it very close to our chest. Sometimes they seem so far off or irresponsible that we shelve it. Often we can even forget about them altogether.
In this present economy, we can feel like we are being foolish even thinking about our dreams! And other times our dreams require help from others, and because they can’t stand to see us fail, make a mistake, or pick up the pieces if we do, we might get a less than supportive response.
Going for your dreams and desires is not for the faint of heart, for sure. There are so many obstacles, within our own heads, as well as in our communities and family.
I can’t address all the various forms of head trash, but for today, I would like to encourage you about this one: It is NOT selfish to pursue the dreams and desires of your heart. It is actually a reflection of the moving of God’s heart in you. He made you to dream and desire.
In 2 Chronicles 1:7 God says to Solomon, “Ask what I shall give you.” In other words, tell me what you want. We often focus on Solomon’s request for wisdom and knowledge, and we think, “Oh, what a wise unselfish request!”
But let me point out… he had every material thing he could possible want. He was the richest man known in history. Yes, that he would want wisdom to handle it all, as well as to rule the people, sounds super smart!
But let’s shift focus a minute. God told Solomon to ask him for anything. This reveals the heart of God to me. And that is what I want to us to focus on today.
In Ephesians 3:20, we are told that through the power that is at work within us, God is able to do exceedingly more than we can think, pray, imagine, or dream. Is it selfish to think big and expect exceedingly above our imaginations? Not if God told us to.
God is such an extravagant God. He has marvelous plans for you. Don’t let the accusation of selfishness threaten your dreams and desires.
Bask in His presence today and let Him take you to places you’ve never been, and if you need my help in implementing, it’d be an honor. If this post means something to you, would you comment below?