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    Letter to a Self-Centered Woman

    The following letter was written to Mrs. Sidney Brownsberger, a miserable woman whose life was unbalanced because of her selfishness and lack of self-control.DG 164.3

    Dear Sister Brownsberger,

    I have written some things for you while the camp meeting was in session, but as I repeated to you some of these things, I did not write them. But again my mind is burdened. I feel the deepest pity and sympathy for you because you think you know all about yourself. [You] will take a fixed position that no one understands you and that you are peculiar in temperament and disposition. You must acknowledge that the Lord is better acquainted with you than you are with yourself. At the time of the camp meeting I felt intensely that you should be blessed and comforted and strengthened, which would give you happiness, peace, and true Christian enjoyment daily.DG 164.4

    In order for this to be the case, I knew you must have clearer views of yourself and of your duties than you had ever had hitherto in your life. I knew that you must be a truly converted woman, and this is the very thing you have argued against, as though no change could take place with you—you must remain just as you were. Now this is all a delusion. Unless a very great change shall take place with you, unless you overcome self and selfishness, unless these peculiar traits of character which you have cherished are overcome, you will have a defective, spotted character which will find no place in Christ's pure and perfect and holy kingdom. The work is before you and me, and all who win eternal life must overcome every fault, every error, every defect in character.DG 165.1

    Do you have a sense that you are selfish, that your thoughts are allowed to center upon self? You must have things your own way, and unless you do, you are perfectly miserable. Your husband is more attentive to you than most men to their wives. He has done the very things for you which you should in no case have had him do, that you yourself could and should have done as your part of the work; but because they were not as pleasant, not as agreeable, you have been glad to have him do them, when it would have been for your good to do these things for yourself. I now fear greatly for you.DG 165.2

    Your present condition will be made by you an excuse for you to lay your weight very heavily upon your husband. Your marked traits of character will appear; your thoughts and sympathies will be centered on yourself, not because in your peculiar situation you suffer more than a large class of women, but because you think more upon the matter; your imagination will be active, and you will forget that others pass through the same without a complaint, without sympathy, without conveniences.DG 165.3

    You have, my sister, but little self-control and do not exercise the strong will you possess to hold in control your own thoughts and your own feelings. You give way to your feelings when things do not go to suit you; you have, in short, hysterics. Is this necessary? I saw it was not, but [that] your condition utterly forbids anything of the kind. You need to hold your feelings with a firm will and never allow these nervous spasms to get the victory over you. You may ask, How can I do this? By thoughtful self-control. Your feelings fret terribly if things do not go according to your mind. You are not thinking how much perplexity and anxiety and distress you bring upon your husband, and you throw your whole weight upon him as though it was your privilege and duty, when it is the education you need to be self-sufficient and unselfish, to look upon and regard others as well as yourself. This lesson you must learn.DG 166.1

    You need not have one of the spasms. You are educating yourself [so] that they will become a fearful reality, second nature; and when the pains of childbirth shall come, these will come upon you and the conditions that produce them will be beyond your control. But you can now control these conditions and need not have them any more than I need to be thus afflicted. It rests with yourself whether you will be a happy or unhappy woman.DG 166.2

    You should be what God would have you—a self-reliant woman. I tell you now in the fear of God that you must be less self-caring. You seem to think no inconvenience or taxation must come upon you, but many women no stronger than yourself, to whom the common duties of domestic life are fully as distasteful as to you, bravely take up these duties and bear them uncomplainingly because it is given them as their work. Deeds of kindness, charity, and love to others will make you one with Christ and take your mind from yourself.DG 166.3

    The prejudice of education is yours, but you cannot enjoy wholeness of character, which is true sanctification, unless you steadily and earnestly discipline yourself. It will not be a debasement to you to do many things in domestic life you do not now touch. God wants you to feel the responsibility of being a comfort and blessing to your husband as well as to expect him to be a comfort and blessing to you.DG 166.4

    Get your mind off yourself; be uncomplaining; be cheerful. There is no reason you should not be cheerful, no reason gratitude should not dwell in your heart although you are in the situation you are. It is no disgrace to have children, and the mother by her own course of action may determine the health and disposition of her children.DG 167.1

    I entreat of you to hide in Jesus, to be His own true child, walking in love and obedience to all His requirements, exemplifying in your life the character of Jesus—tender and thoughtful of others, considering them just as good and just as deserving as yourself of conveniences and comforts and happiness. This you have not done. Self has been put first, and others’ pleasure, taste, and happiness have come second. Now, this is not as it should be, although it is natural.DG 167.2

    If she is ever to enter heaven, there is a work Florida must do for herself that no one can do for her. What kind of a heaven would it be to you if you could enter there with all these peculiarities which you earnestly argue against the possibility of overcoming? Will it be necessary for the Lord to remove your husband by death, to send adversity upon you in removing your children, to deprive you of blessings which you now have in order to call you to your true senses and refine and polish you [so] that you will become self-forgetful, patient, unmurmuring, and thankful? I write to you now because I have been shown the many excuses pregnant women make for the perversity of temper, which is all the temptation of Satan. God will give grace if you pursue the course of a Bible Christian.DG 167.3

    You will feel bad, I know, over this letter, but I dare not withhold it. Your work now is to love God supremely and your neighbor as yourself. Be just as considerate and thoughtful in regard to your neighbor as you are in regard to yourself. We must not be so wrapped in self that we fail to put ourselves in the position of others and fail to make their case our own. There are others just as sensitive as you are, just as refined in taste, and who have excellent intellect, who dislike the disagreeable little duties of life which somebody must do. Share these responsibilities with them and forget Florida in the interest you take in others’ happiness. Do what you can to lighten the burden of others in any capacity, and do not be wrapped up in selfishness.DG 167.4

    This you may feel is severe, but it is just as God has presented the case to me, and for some reason I feel His Spirit moving upon me to rise at three o'clock in the morning and write it. You may through faith in Christ become strong, self-reliant, and useful. But I tell you, Florida, in the name of Jesus, you need not have one of these nervous spasms which call for so great extra labor and bring such fear, such anxiety and true distress, upon your husband. He cannot endure everything; he is mortal, as well as you are. God claims the talents He has lent him. He cannot make a success in his work and have health and vigor of mind unless you, his wife, shall take up your lifework and help him as only a wife can. You can be the greatest load a man can carry, or you can be a blessing. It is in your power to break down and destroy the courage of your husband by your own ways and your own actions, or you may strengthen and build him up. Let Jesus into the soul temple to preside there, and all things will then be after the order of God.DG 168.1

    I do not write you because I do not love you. I write because I love you. You are the purchase of the blood of Christ. I want that you should perfect Christian character. The great respect which you cherish for self creates a moral deformity. You will never perfect Christian character until you think less of self and have a better opinion of others. You should not try to excuse yourself from coming in contact with obstacles and overcoming them. You will become strong in spiritual sinew and muscle by lifting responsibilities. You argue your own feebleness too much and shun the very things which will give you strength.DG 168.2

    Religion is an active, working principle, and furnishes a stamina sufficient for the stern realities of life. Religion even has power to restrain and control self, to overcome sharp hereditary tendencies. It has a true transforming power upon life, modulating the character. Christ was a worker; He toiled for a livelihood, working in the carpenter's shop. Thus He ennobled and dignified even common labor. Now, my sister, intelligence and education are never designed to make ordinary labor disgusting and disinteresting or distasteful. Even the most common duties of domestic life may be elevated and dignified.DG 168.3

    Religion ever imparts power to its possessor to restrain, control, and balance the character and intellect and emotions. It has a power to persuade, entreat, and command with divine authority all the ability and affections. Religion—oh, I wish we all understood its workings! It lays us under the weightiest obligations. As we connect ourselves with Christ we solemnly pledge ourselves to walk as Christ walked. Whether we eat or drink or whatsoever we do, all must be done with self out of sight and God's glory in view. Every act of ours has its influence upon others, therefore every thought and every motive is to be under the control of the Spirit of God.DG 169.1

    Our notions, our peculiarities, are wholly human and must not be humored or indulged. Self is to be crucified, not now and then, but daily, and the physical, mental, and spiritual must be subordinate to the will of God. The glory of God, the perfection of Christian character, is to be the aim, the purpose of our life. Christ's followers must imitate Christ in disposition. The Pattern is given us to copy, and no excuse will be accepted of God as a reason for not meeting the divine standard, however contrary it may be to our own nature, our own selfish desires and inclinations. Like Christ is the watchword, not like your father or your mother, but like Jesus Christ—hid in Christ, clothed with Christ's righteousness, imbued with the Spirit of Christ.DG 169.2

    All the peculiarities given us as an inheritance or acquired by indulgence or through erroneous education must be thoroughly overcome, decidedly resisted. Love of esteem and pride of opinion, all must be brought to the sacrifice. They must be overcome. There is no compromise to be made with the enemy of righteousness.DG 169.3

    The conflict will be hard and wearisome, but Jesus is our helper; in Him and through Him we must conquer, however severe the process. God requires no less of you than this. Every one of His children must be like Christ, who lived not to please Himself. Symmetry of character we must have in order to stand before the Son of man. The grace of God is waiting your demand upon it. If you ask Him, He will give you grace and strength as you need it.DG 169.4

    That which you term sensitiveness is pride that will not bear contradiction. Self must be disciplined, guarded, and controlled. The most becoming dignity you can possess is the Christian self-control that will endure provocation. The religion of Christ will bind and restrain every unholy passion, will stimulate to energy, to self-discipline and industry even in the matters of homely, everyday life, leading us to learn economy, tact, self-denial, and to endure even privation without a murmur. The Spirit of Christ in the heart will be revealed in the character, will develop noble qualities and powers. “My grace is sufficient,” says Christ.DG 169.5

    Your wishes, your will, will be often crossed, but you should not be discouraged. Jesus loves you and He wants you to be happy even in this life and to be a light in the world. I wish you could see, and our people could see, what they may be and what they may become. God will work with your efforts. Tests will come to us daily in trials and disappointments, and the true character is developed. Those who cannot endure the vexations and crosses of life will utterly fail when the sterner trials shall open upon them. Jesus wants you to be happy, but you cannot be happy in having your own way and following the impulse of your own heart.DG 170.1

    God wants you and your husband to set an example to others worthy of imitation. You can do this, or He would never require it of you. Your help is in God.—Letter 25, 1882.DG 170.2

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