The sun was finally shining again after several days of wintry bliss. A gentle breeze was blowing just enough to make one entertain the idea of kite flying and the hint of spring brushed the air. The playground was filled with smiling children grateful at last for a chance to be outdoors. Laughter saturated the air with a happy melody promising that winter soon would give way to sunnier days.
Her eyes met mine and a smile quickly spread across her face when she recognized me. Her hand shot up in the air and back down again as if she became embarrassed midway through her greeting. She darted around the slide out of sight and I began explaining to my daughters who the little girl was.
Several times she walked briskly in front of our family jabbering with a friend about the last time we had seen each other. Then she would run to the woman who had brought her to the park. I presumed she was telling her about us because of the vigorous pointing in our direction.
Sometime later as we were swinging and Daddy was giving “monster pushes” to our five kids, I noticed she occupied the sixth swing. The girlish chatter was gone along with the giggles and grins I’d seen from her moments before. She sat motionless in the swing, her small hand clutching the chain and her cheek resting against her knuckles. She seemed to stare at nothing in particular though I caught her stealing frequent glances at our family. She was momentarily oblivious to her friend’s pleas to join her on the slide again.
My heart broke as I watched her and replayed what I knew of her tragic story in my mind. She had two sisters; her mommy and daddy were no longer married to each other; her daddy’s new girlfriend was the one who had brought her to the park; and her friend was the new girlfriend’s daughter.
Watching her sit motionless on the swing, I imagined her looking at our family and wishing she could have what we have. A year ago, she did. Now her little world was turned upside down and broken, and she was left to pick up the pieces and to try to make sense of it all.
Tears filled my eyes as I realized she had joined the ranks of so many other little boys and girls of our world today whose lives and homes were broken. For some, the selfish effects of divorce have become common place, but never to those who suffer from its reality.
Once the infection of selfishness becomes obvious, changing one’s behavior is difficult, almost impossible. The cure requires a heart transplant strengthened by daily Bible reading and prayer time to counteract the symptoms.
It has been said that marriage problems are simply “me” problems. If I could learn how to get “me” out of the way, I could have a successful, thriving marriage; and therefore, raise healthy, thriving children.
Is my marriage immune to the disease of selfishness? Have I always been perfectly unselfish? Don’t let me mislead you. My husband and I have had our fair amount of struggles, often stemming from selfishness. But for the grace of God, it would be my own little girl sitting idly in that swing wishing she wasn’t a statistic, inwardly longing for a “perfect” family.
No family is perfect; there are no easy marriages. Every couple must make a decision to love unconditionally– a love that is not subject to one condition or any condition.
Unfaithfulness, harmful addictions, and even “falling out of love” are symptoms of the condition of marriages and the raging disease of selfishness. Sadly, selfishness has affected all mankind which is evidenced by the number of broken homes and failed marriages.
The lives of children are impacted negatively by Mommy and Daddy’s decision to divorce simply because it’s too hard to learn how to live together and love each other unselfishly. Physically, the child’s heart races and their stomachs sicken when they hear Mommy and Daddy fighting for their own selfish rights. They wonder what they did to cause this or if they could be good enough to keep it from happening. The enemy seizes the opportunity to ruin another soul because the parents think they are entitled to fulfilling their own selfish desires.
What can be done to keep the disease of selfishness from infecting our marriages and keep our little ones from being left alone on a swing longing to have a family life that only their parents working together through Jesus Christ can give?
The antidote for the disease of selfishness is found in Philippians 2:3-4 where we are told to count others more significant than ourselves and to look to the interests of others. Another antidote, found in Galatians 5:26 cautions that we should not become conceited, provoking or envying one another. More importantly, we can live I Corinthians 13:4-6: Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. This will ensure that we not only keep our little ones from the sorrow of a broken family, we can provide a thriving one for them!
I challenge you to immediately take the first steps in relieving the symptoms of selfishness in your life. Don’t wait for your spouse to start the process. Be the change in your marriage today! Do what it takes to ensure that your child never occupies the sixth swing.
Niki enjoys homeschooling her five children, homemaking, sewing, and creating inspirational art for the home. She has been married for twenty years to her best friend, Steve. They have two precious blessings resting in the arms of Jesus. Their family has enjoyed working together in children’s ministry since 1992 and Niki is currently working towards getting her first children’s book published. She is the blog author of For Journey’s Sake and can also be found on face book writing about her passion to mentor and encourage women and girls on their journey to becoming Proverbs 31 virtuous women.