There is a map of the world hanging in an office some 9,000 miles away from my front door. At first glance, it looks as though the continents are in the wrong place. But after a bit of study, you realize it isn’t wrong at all, but simply drawn from another perspective. Standing in the Compassion International office in Manila, Philippines, our team stared hard at that map. And seeing Asia in the middle with North and South America shifted way to the right didn’t cause one entitled huff or puff. Instead, our entire team breathed a collective sigh of relief.
I’ve thought of that moment a lot, wondered why we all had the same reaction to that map in that moment. Perhaps it’s because traveling the world helps you realize you aren’t the center of it. And there is a great relief in remembering that it isn’t all about us.
My dad used to watch our kids as toddlers and say under his breath, We teach them when they’re babies that they’re center of the world, and they spend the rest of their lives realizing they’re not. It’s true, we do it. We have to tend to them as though their world depends on it, because it does. They are so small. But so are we.
Still, we spend a lot of time working hard to keep our world spinning ’round–write the proposal, plan the meal, pick up the girls, deliver the brownies, ask him the questions, give them attention, and on it goes. We have to do these things, as they are our living, our livelihood, our art. But our living and our art can quickly cross over into our burdens even as we will them not to.
Instead of living and loving out of a place of fullness, we grasp for meaning and worth out of a place of need. Call me important! Tell me I matter! our actions cry out. There is a voice that whispers, You are and you do, but not because of all this activity.