Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Selfishness vs. Sacrifice

As you're probably aware if you've been paying any attention to my facebook, on Monday night I went to a Relient K concert. This is not going to be one of my usual concert blogs though. It wasn't a normal concert experience, so perhaps that is fitting.

Relient K was the first band I was really a fan of. I started listening to them at the suggestion of a good friend, and though at the time the concept of listening to anything with electric guitars was scary, I fell in love with their quirky lyrics and bouncy songs. The first album I ever owned from any band was Relient K's "The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek," which I bought a few months before my 16th birthday. Relient K was the soundtrack for my last few years of highschool. I've followed all the band members's blogs for three years, bought over 8 hours of their music (every album they've ever done and multiple EPs), and now of course I stalk them all on twitter. Though Skillet has been my favorite band for a while now, Relient K will always hold a special place in my heart.

All this to say, seeing them live was a long-held ambition. When I heard they were coming to Dallas again, I started planning a way to get there. I planned for well over a month. We went through a ridiculous ordeal with tickets that lasted for three weeks, due to tickets being lost in the mail. We had to drive for nearly three hours to get to the venue, and I planned it so we arrived 4 hours early. We were the very first ones in line. We spent nearly 3 hours sitting on the hard cement, waiting. We picked up our tickets at will call. When the doors opened, we went in and rushed to get to our spot in the standing room only venue. We got the best spot in the house: dead center, very front, against the guard rail. Another hour and a half of waiting followed, during which we didn't dare to move from our spot because we knew we'd lose it.

Barcelona and Copeland opened, and though they were good, I was really just waiting for Relient K. But also, particularly during Copeland, I started to feel uneasy. There were two highschool girls standing behind me who were there for Relient K. I knew they had to be having trouble seeing the stage (my brother and I are not exactly short). I also could tell that they were beyond ecstatic to be seeing Relient K live. Suddenly the thought occured to me: let them have your spot.

I tried reasoning my way out of it. What? No! That would be nice and all, but I paid so much to be here, and I've waited for so many years, and we drove so far, and sat outside the venue for so long, not to mention the thing with the tickets! I deserve to be here.

But the thought persisted. Think how much it would mean to them. You go around talking about love. Do you actually believe in it?

Yeah, I believe in it, but I deserve to have this! I mean, it's not really that big of a deal, right?

I kept trying to ignore it, but I couldn't. I guess one thing about love is that it's not rational. Did I deserve to be there, in the best place I could possibly be, seeing this band? Maybe. But does love work on the concept of what is deserved? Jesus didn't think so.

I prayed about it, and I knew I was being asked to offer these random girls I didn't know my spot. And I said yes.

After Copeland's set I turned around to talk to the girls and asked them if they could see alright. They shrugged and said it was OK. I asked if they would like it better if I let them go to the front. I haven't seen faces absolutely light up like that in a long time.

"That would absolutely make my entire life if you let us," one of them said.

I smiled. "OK then, you definitely can."

They asked if there were any songs I particularly wanted to be at the front for, so I pulled the setlist from my pocket (it never hurts to do your research beforehand). We looked over it together, and determined that after Relient K played Let it All Out (about halfway into the set) I'd let them go to the front.

"I'm so happy right now, I kind of want to give you a hug," one of the girls said somewhat hesitantly.

I laughed. "Feel free." I ended up hugging both of them before getting back into position for Relient K's set to start.

And so I got to be at the very front for half a set from one of my favorite bands, as they played incredibly special songs like Be My Escape, Forward Motion, Therapy, Mood Rings, Which to Bury, and of course Let it All Out. Then I turned around, smiled, and switched positions with them. The way they absolutely glowed through the rest of the set made my position farther back so, so worth it.

Now, I'm saying this at the risk of making it sound like I've got everything figured out. Please don't take it that way. I'm not going to lie: I had to overcome a lot of selfishness and a lot of pride in order to let these girls have my spot, because I am a selfish person. I'm so selfish it scares me. But the point I want to make is that sometimes love is in the little things. Also, love is about sacrifice. It's about losing yourself in loving someone else.

And it doesn't always feel good. I'm reminded of the time, my first semester of college, when I was invited by someone at school to go to a Switchfoot and Red concert, and turned it down because my sister's birthday party was the same day. I cried about it for literally about two days straight, because that was the only time my first year that anyone at school invited me to do anything with them. But I knew that it was important to my sister that I be there for her birthday celebration, and so I gave it up. And no, it didn't feel good. It hurt. But God never asks us to make these sacrifices alone. In fact, the only reason we even have the strength to make them at all is because of His love expressed through us, even though we are broken and selfish beings.

Don't be afraid to sacrifice, even for strangers. That is love. That is what Christ did when He stretched out His arms and died for broken people who didn't deserve it.

I'm still figuring this out. I'm still trying to overcome my selfish sense of entitlement. The most I can do is to share these thoughts and hope they make you think too.

- Elraen -

PS - Relient K was amazing. I was grinning like an idiot their whole set, when I wasn't crying. God is so amazing.

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Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how inspiring and encouraging this blog post was to me. Thanks so much, Raen. :) *hugs* - Angel

Linda B said...

Sacrifice is pretty much a requirement of parenthood, as I'm sure you'll eventually find out. Like when you give up your own plans in order to take your kids to a concert in Dallas on their fall break . . .

Liz said...

Love this. Your blog really made me think & it reminded me of a quote from a famous person's shirt site that I know you will know who (oh man that's horrible grammar but i'm tired and don't care lol). It's this:

Love: it's not a sacrifice unless it costs you something.

I'm very proud to be your friend after reading this blog. We're all selfish sometimes but I know that when we're selfless it brings us joy too, yes it's almost always hard, but there is joy =) ♥ love you!

Kendra Logan said...

Cool blog!

I love Relient K!

In Christ,

eyesonEvermore said...

love the way you write. its easy to be selfesh rather then selfless, so reading this was an encouragement. Keep up the sweet writing :)