Selflessness can feel like a heavy burden. Often, it doesn’t come from a place of lightness, freedom, and love, but from insecurity, guilt, or the belief that the harder thing is always the more holy thing.

But stress and shame don’t produce the fruits of the Spirit. Stress activates our flight, fight, or freeze responses, priming us for reactivity, judgment, and anger. It turns out, harsh self-denial and low personal esteem don’t cultivate selflessness. They reduce it.

There’s another way of thinking about it, though. The Creator spoke the universe into being with incredible love. The Lord didn’t need us. He wanted us.

Because of this, each human who has ever or will ever be born can dare to say they belong here. Each one of us is an image bearer. Each one of us carries the sweetness of potential—the possibility of being transformed like Christ.

No matter whether we serve in thankless, menial ways or in public, sought-after ways, our identities stay with us. Our bodies and souls are made by God, for God, and both are gifts. We are gifts. Part of being selfless is seeing ourselves as gifts and sharing our self-gifts with others. When love for others is rooted in delight and trust in God, it’s restorative and transformational for everyone.

We hope you enjoy our writers’ reflections on different aspects of selflessness and how they intersect with our identities and relationships. Ruth Marie Paterson’s poetry speaks to the complexities of trying to let others in when our own selves take up so much space. Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach, one of the co-authors of The Great Sex Rescue, challenges us to reimagine a more selfless, redemptive sexual ethic.

In this issue’s feature interview, Sarah Evangeline talks about creative collaboration, how God healed her from the view that creativity is selfish, and how to take small, brave steps, even when the outcome is uncertain.

In the Flipside, Mike Bonikowsky describes what he’s learned about love and brotherhood through his role as a developmental support worker. Robbie Down reflects on the ways his parents have shaped his understanding of forgiveness and making peace.

May you find the articles in this issue edifying and encouraging in your relationship with Jesus.