Do I have to do this again?
Lament bad news going around the web.
Work or classes.
Check in on social media.
Crawl into bed wondering where the day went.
Sound too familiar? Don’t worry, it does to me too.
So much of the time we go about our lives going through the motions. I look back on some days and wonder what I did. Did I create meaningful memories? Did I stop and smell the alfalfa – enjoy the sunshine, spend time in prayer, and ask good questions of the people I came in contact with?
To be honest, the answers to those questions are not always great.
Sometimes I could have handled conversations much more graciously. I could have been more thoughtful. And for me, it comes down the choices I make. Did I choose to think about other people’s needs before my own? Or was I so focused on powering through my day that I didn’t notice a couple people I said “hi” to really weren’t doing okay?
Especially in the US, we talk about college being a time to “find yourself”. So I should be focusing on myself and living everyday focused on myself, right?
From my (oh so extensive) experience, this is mind-blowingly true. When I focus on myself, I become selfish, because I’m thinking only about myself. But when I reach beyond myself and ask how I can impact other people for the common good, we’re all left a little better. You are doing better because who doesn’t appreciate being paid attention to. And I’m doing better because helping people builds relationships and makes me appreciate the awesomeness of our differences.
So this Lent, and in life in general, I want to do a better job paying attention to the needs of others. I’m going to step outside myself, and serve other people. Not because people I know are charity cases, but because the world would be better off if we lost ourselves in service more often. If we crucified our desires by asking what we could do for others, how much better off would we be? Because when we take that step, we know people better and can identify with people more easily. We see ourselves in common struggles, and become more fully who we were made to be by walking other people’s journeys with them.
That’s what compassion is, after all – to suffer with someone. To walk beside you and go through things with you as we navigate whatever life throws at us. So can I pray for anything specific for you this Lent? Do you need a coffee date so I can listen to whatever is going on in your life? Would a handwritten note mean a lot to you? Can I call you? Do you want to chat over Facebook or emails?
I would love to give my time to you.
Because our lives are better when they are lived for something bigger than ourselves.
Let’s make an effort to extend ourselves more often, to reach beyond our personal desires into the needs of our communities. Because guess what? It’s there where our true colors will shine through, where our character will be tested, and our greatest traits will be forged.
Are you willing to step beyond yourself to make that happen? Let’s do this together!