Ian & Larissa: Thoughts on Living a Selfless Life

 

I haven’t been able to get over this story since I saw this video a few days ago on facebook. It has been haunting me.

It is the story of a young couple, Ian and Larissa, that met in college. After dating for several months, and preparing for engagement, they experienced a huge trauma that would probably shake most relationships. Ian was in a car accident that left him with a brain injury, unable to walk or talk, but Larissa stayed with him. They were engaged, married, and now through therapy he is walking and is able to communicate with his wife.

I totally cried like a baby the first time I saw it. And then I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

“What if that happened to Mike and I?” I kept thinking. “How could I take care of him, myself, and our son?” “How could she give up a life she cannot have, for the sake of loving her husband?” “How can a person maintain so much selflessness?” “Could I do that?”

Reading 1 John today I came across a few passages that reminded me of how Christ-like their marriage is, and how even though we don’t have the same kind of challenges (because despite the incredible affection and happiness they exude, they are still human and I’m sure they have challenging days), this is still what our marriage should look like.

First, this one, “This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” – 1 John 2:6

Too often we question what we should be doing, or spend too much time searching for God’s will for our lives, when the answer is so clear and in so few words, “live as Jesus did.” It doesn’t make it easy and it doesn’t often come naturally, but that is his will for us. Larissa is absolutely living this out in a very obvious way, and seeing her story of selfless love made me think I wasn’t doing enough.  But, loving my son and giving him the very best example of a God-fearing momma that I can, is just as important as working with addicts, or people suffering from mental illnesses. Forgiving those who have hurt me, is just as important as being a missionary in a third world country. Serving my spouse selflessly, is just as important as serving a handicapped spouse selflessly. It is the attitude, not the magnitude, of the action.

The second verse that brought the point home for me is this, “…everything in the world – the cravings of sinful people, the lust of their eyes and their boastings about what they have and do – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” – 1 John 2:16-17

“How could she give up a life she cannot have, for the sake of loving her husband?” is the question that this verse addressed for me. We tend to think of our success in life in terms of achievements. “I’m married, have a child, have a fantastic job, a nice house, I’ve worked hard and earned the ‘American dream,’ I’ve got it made!” is what we tell ourselves. “I should be so happy because of all that I have been blessed with in life,” is how we justify our stuff and the status of our well-being. But 1 John rips all of that away, “the world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” A godly life is not described as the ‘American Dream’ in the Bible. Sorry folks, it just isn’t. In fact, it seems from this passage, that the ‘American Dream’ would be described as wordly, and a little bit sinful (yep!). The best kind of life is described here as someone who “does the will of God,” which we see from 2:6 is to “live as Jesus did.”

“This is how we know we are in him…” She can do what she does for her husband everyday because she is truly filled with the Spirit, and living as Jesus did. My initial thought that she “gave up a life she cannot have for the sake of loving her husband” seems pretty petty, and silly now. Of course she did, isn’t that what Christ did for us?

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