I grew up in a religious tradition that encouraged us to “offer it up” when something was not to our liking. For instance, if you had to sit next to someone in school whom you absolutely despised you’d endure it by offering it up to Jesus. I’m not sure why anyone thought that worked for anything, though it was no doubt an admonition to die to self as Christ commanded.
But what usually really happened when we “offered it up”? Usually the real truth was that we sighed and endured and felt smug and spiritually superior when we did so and played your basic martyr role to the hilt.
True dying to your own flesh can never be faked and is the hardest thing in the world to do. In other words, you can’t pretend to die. Jesus said: “‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself along; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.'”
Death to self is not about gritting our teeth and bearing what we cannot stand. It is more about choosing. Choosing to see things from God’s perspective, choosing to be thankful even in disaster, choosing to see the best in the worst, choosing to believe even when it seems that faith has failed.
If you are struggling with getting your grain of wheat to fall to the ground right now (and who isn’t) don’t despair. You want that “much fruit” don’t you? Start CHOOSING. And if you don’t like that idea, just offer it up!