No Excuse to Be Selfish

Cross with a sunset in the background
For the Christian, selfishness is never an option. But God promises that we'll find joy in the midst of sacrifice.

My brother and his wife had a baby girl two weeks ago. Ten toes, ten fingers, lots of dark hair, and eight pounds, eight ounces of pure adorableness. They live here in town, so I’ve found my way over there several times to hold her — and I have a growing collection of Elsie pictures on my phone to show whoever asks.

I’ve never been an aunt before. I’ve been a daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin, friend and sister-in-law, but “aunt” is new to me. I have no advice or tips or time-tested wisdom. I do, however, have one thing to offer that aunts and uncles with more experience may have forgotten: the wonder of it.

A newborn miracle

A few weeks before her due date, the magnitude finally began to sink in for me. This baby girl is the first in the next generation of my family. Because she is my brother’s daughter, she and I have the same last name. We are forever entwined by our family roots. The people I have known as Mom and Dad my whole life, she will know in a way I have never seen them: grandparents. My younger brother is her dad. My other younger brother, her uncle.

How do we ever lose the wonder of the awesomeness of a new life? God has created billions of people since He first breathed life into Adam and Eve, and honestly, each one of us is no less of a miracle. But this little girl is not just any baby. She is a completely unique individual unlike any other, and God chose to put her into our family specifically. She has a personality we have seen glimpses of (hello, Miss Opinionated) but won’t fully know for months or even years. Who knows what interests and passions she will have? What will spur her on, and what will drive her crazy? What will inspire her, and who will she inspire?

The sonogram pictures were inadequate preparation for meeting my niece. How will knowing this little girl — a new, forever, eternal soul — change me? How will knowing me change her? (Oh goodness, there’s a thought to worry about.)

I may be a newbie auntie but there’s one thing I know already: our family is forever impacted by this little person.

All about me

I saw a post on social media the other day about intentional childlessness. I can’t remember the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of: “Choosing not to have children because I’m selfish is perfectly OK.” The writer of the post tried to paint intentional childlessness as a normal and admirable choice.

Couples are childless for many different reasons, and usually not by choice. Countless men and women want to be fathers and mothers but can’t, whether because of health situations or relationship status or even unknown reasons.

But choosing to be childless simply because we are selfish? Is that really OK?

Watching my sleep-deprived brother and sister-in-law dote on their newborn alarm clock has reminded me how selfish I am. My sister-in-law is still recovering, but her first concern is for her little girl’s comfort. My brother has been busy changing baby’s diapers, cleaning house, and bringing his wife whatever she needs.

And Aunt Lauren? I hold the baby, take a few pictures, and then go back home for a night of uninterrupted sleep.

I am selfish. We all are. But we’re not supposed to stay that way.

As Christians, we follow a God who rescued us through sacrifice. Jesus was not indebted to us. He did not owe us salvation. Yet He chose to leave His throne in heaven, be limited to a human body in a poor community in ancient times, suffer through all the normal human experiences for 30 years, and die an excruciating, humiliating death.

Jesus’ sacrifice to serve us was so drastic that Paul later described it as when Christ “emptied” himself. Think on that. The Creator of each of us emptied himself to serve us. To give us new life.

The wonder of it

I’m really not trying to call anyone out on selfishness. We’ve already established that I’m selfish, too. But acknowledging selfishness and working to overcome it is not the same as using that selfishness as an excuse to…be selfish.

As we follow Christ’s example of service and sacrifice, some of us will remain childless and some of us will one day join the ranks of parents. But no matter what our roles will be, God will still call us to sacrifice. To leave behind our selfishness. And because of who our God is, we will usually find our greatest joys in the middle of our sacrifices.

My brother and sister-in-law have already sacrificed so much for my niece. My role in her life is much smaller, but I have also been given the gift of being involved in her life and, in some ways, putting her needs above mine. Of course, it’s a bonus that she’s so adorable.

Copyright 2021 Lauren Dunn. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Lauren Dunn
Lauren Dunn

Lauren Dunn is a freelance writer who has lived most of her life in Wichita, Kan., but still regularly gets lost when driving around town. She loves stories (especially the good ones), ice cream (chocolate chip cookie dough), and playing the ukulele (but only songs with the three chords she knows). You can read more of her thoughts at her blog, StoriedHope.

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