Philippians 2:3-4: “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.”
Many things have come up for me as I've been thinking about these verses this week. In reflecting on what it means to me to look to the interests of others, and to value others above ourselves, I wonder: What does selflessness mean to me? What does it look like for us to love others and to consider their needs above or before our own? How do I want to show up for the people I love, and for the people who depend on me?
To be honest, I often feel that I have nothing to offer to anyone. I am 19 years old, living on my own, and consistently trying to figure out ways to support myself. Meanwhile, I am walking the path of self-discovery, defining my values, and asking myself big questions; questions like, What do I want to do with my life? What does God want to do with my life? God has placed wonderful and generous people in my life, who have supported me emotionally and physically even at my lowest points. I face the daily challenge of feeling that I have nothing to offer these people in return. But as I reflected on Philippians 2:3-4, God spoke something incredibly powerful to me: I can always offer my heart. This does not just apply to my situation. No matter how much money or material possessions we have or do not have, the most meaningful thing you can offer to someone who is struggling, is your heart.
But what does this mean and how can we do this?
Lending your ear to listen.
Being a person that others can confide in.
Asking questions, and truly listening to their responses.
Being present when in the company of others.
Making an honest effort to help them feel seen and understood.
To me, offering my heart looks like being there for the people I love through times of trouble, not just times of prosperity. Being present not just when it is convenient to our schedules or correlates with our own desires and plans to “achieve happiness”.
The reality is, enduring someone’s hardship with them will never be what we typically label as convenient. We all have personal matters we would like to focus on. However, sometimes loving someone and valuing another person above ourselves, means sacrificing our own desires momentarily to walk through their pain and hardship with them.
Sometimes, being by someone’s side through heavy circumstances can eventually cause the weight of our own emotions to feel overwhelming. I empathize with others easily, and I tend to absorb both the positive and negative emotions of others. In the past, this was often a hard thing for me to sit with, because I already have a lot of emotions, so taking in the emotions of others can make the combined weight of those emotions feel like a lot to process. However, over time, God has shown me how to be empathetic without making the emotions of others my own. Through this, I believe He has created more space in my heart for me to listen, support and encourage others. In addition, He has also granted me the ability to be strong and to set my own problems and emotions aside when I see that it is time to be there for someone else.
Humbling ourselves to the admittance of our own flaws and mistakes is another way I believe we can better show up for someone when they need us. Some of us are better at this than others, but I believe each of us can probably think back on at least one instance where admitting we were wrong was quite difficult. In addition to admitting our faults, we should make it a priority to grow and to make amends, because when we strive to be better, we are taking steps towards sharing God’s love to the purest extent of which we are capable. When our path looks uncertain, knowing we are not alone makes it a little bit easier to keep walking.