Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
In a world of imperfection, love is no exception. For many, the ways in which we care, or don’t care, are external reflections of our internal conditions. It would be foolish to think otherwise… to believe that we only love from a place of light, as if our shortcomings and trauma do not hinder us from expressing a love that is pure. Sometimes, because of this when situations arise, we won’t care enough – simply because we can’t. We haven’t put in the work needed to overcome what blocks us from fully showing up for others. Maybe we also haven’t spent enough time being introspective to understand what we should change. I was told once that it can be intimidating to face the darkness within us, but I have to question – what exactly is the alternative?
To ignore it? We cannot rid ourselves of the emptiness while still clinging to the darkness. It is pride, egos, pain, and much more that stop us from being able to love others in the way that Christ loves us. When we act from a place of sin, we leave trails of hurt and disappointment. In a misguided attempt to justify these actions, we’ll choose to label our limitations as pieces of who we are. Yet they are not. We do not have to hold onto the parts of us that hinder our capacity to love and therefore our capacity to experience life to the fullest. With God, we can choose to let those dark parts of us go. Nevertheless, in this world, if we aren’t careful, we’ll be asking for those parts to stay.
Do We Want Darkness to Win?
Society is doing its best to condition us to believe that sin is okay. We’re told it’s acceptable to feel how we feel, and not receive any negative feedback for it. By doing this, we stop applying critical thinking to our emotions. We don’t ask – is what I’m feeling correct or accurate? We just know that we feel it, and because we feel it, our personal truth says it must be right. But what if we’re wrong. Instead of working on our own insecurities, we’ll be asking others to adjust for them. When we do this, we’re requiring them to adapt to painful and hurtful actions – without complaining. With such an ask, we disregard how our actions impact others, which effectively indicates we don’t care enough – yet we won’t say such emotions aloud.
We won’t say we’re being selfish or stubborn because it’s hard to admit that maybe, in some areas, we’re okay with darkness winning. We’re okay with being self-centered when such actions are what suits us best, regardless of how it affects others. We’ll load up on apologies instead of changed behaviors, saying we’ll do better next time with no real intention of changing. Even with our best efforts, we exclude God because we’re trying to evade accountability. Still, God sees us, and He knows the most authentic versions of our intentions. In His love for us, He’ll find ways to show us the changes needed within our lives, but it’s always up to us as to how we respond.
A Case Study on Esther
If you’re wondering if such a concept can be found in the Bible – consider Esther. Her origin story tells us that her parents died, and her cousin Mordecai stepped in to take care of her. After Esther becomes queen, a situation arises where Mordecai is in a public state of mourning, even going as far as to place himself outside of the king’s gate. When Esther sees this, she sends him clothes to wear, instead of his mourning attire – sackcloth and ashes. Mordecai, however, refuses this gesture. It’s interesting to note that Esther’s first goal wasn’t to find out why Mordecai was mourning. Instead, she wanted to make sure Mordecai was in the right attire since he was so close to the king’s gate.
Then, only after Mordecai does not go along with this idea, does she send Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs whom he had appointed to attend her, to find out what the problem is. We then read in Esther 4:7-8:
And Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries to destroy the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the written decree for their destruction, which was given at Shushan, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her, and that he might command her to go in to the king to make supplication to him and plead before him for her people.
You might think that upon hearing this news from Hathach, Esther would go straight to the king – but she does not. Esther makes the decision to send a message back to Mordecai, letting him know you must be called to the king in order to have an audience with him. You can go unannounced, but if you do the king will need to hold out his golden scepter in order for you to live. If not, you die, and Esther hadn’t been called in the last 30 days. Esther’s response is an example of what it looks like when we don’t care enough. It’s not that Esther was void of care. She just happened to care about her own life more than she cared about saving the lives of an entire nation.
This is the conundrum with caring. We expect us to all care about the same things, and in the same ways – but we don’t. There are discrepancies and those discrepancies cause issues. Whether from differing priorities or values, gaining alignment can be difficult. And unless we gain alignment, there will always be challenges in those areas.
Mordecai, however, recognizes Esther’s selfishness and chooses to speak up. He relays this message to her servants in verses 13&14:
And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Esther, upon receiving this feedback, has a change of heart and would shortly thereafter go to see the king. And in case you’re unfamiliar with this story, the Jews are saved. Mordecai, however, gives us an important lesson on advocating for yourself when others fail to rise to the occasion. We don’t have to accept the choices of others in silence. We have the right to assess our emotions, seek God, and then respond in truth, faith, and love.
Now in closing…
One might say that Esther had a right to look out for herself, and this is true. Yet Philippians 2:3-4 admonishes us to: Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. There’s a balance that should occur between our own needs, and the needs of others. When we act from a place of fear, selfishness, pride, or ego, we cannot act from a place of love. It’s important to understand what’s driving our choices, and if our intentions are rooted in Christ or self. Only then, can we open ourselves up to the possibilities of real change, and only enduring change can happen when we walk in concert with Christ.
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