We Spend Too Much Time Focused on Ourselves Rather Than Others
We need to be clear on what things are most important and focus on them first. Being clear on what’s most important is the hard part. There’s always something vying for our attention.
For example, how important is fixing a broken lawn mower?
How could a broken lawn mower become a point of contention for a happily married couple? After all, it’s just a piece of machinery. Or is it? When does it become the central flashpoint between a man and a woman?
“When our lawn mower broke and wouldn’t run, my wife kept hinting to me that I should get it fixed. But, somehow I always had something else to take care of first, the truck, the car, playing golf – always something more important to me.
Finally she thought of a clever way to make her point.
When I arrived home one day, I found her seated in the tall grass, busily snipping away with a tiny pair of sewing scissors. I watched silently for a short time and then went into the house.
I was gone only a minute, and when I came out again, I handed her a toothbrush.
I said, “When you finish cutting the grass, you might as well sweep the driveway.”
(Wait for it)
(Just a little more)
The doctors say I will walk again, but I will always have a limp. 😊
I think this broken lawn mower was pretty important.
We find ourselves in a very noisy world. Surrounded by something or someone needing something from us.
We get to decide who or what we give our attention to.
In Matthew Chapter 4, Jesus spends 40 days by himself clearing His mind as He prepares for His ministry. At the end of these forty days Satan tempts Him with food, wealth and fame. The same things we find ourselves tempted with every day.
Then in Chapter 5 verses 1-12, He gives us the Beatitudes, a perspective of where our attention should be focused and the blessings that result from that.
Ultimately, we are supposed to be aware of those around us and help them when and where we can. It’s about slowing down long enough to see and hear those around us and then do something to let them know that we do see and hear them.
When Joe Serna was arrested for drinking and driving, one of the terms of his probation was that he would not consume alcohol for a predetermined amount of time. However, after lying on a urine test, Joe was brought back to the courtroom, this time in front of Judge Lou Olivera. Judge Olivera felt he had no choice but to sentence Joe to a night in jail for breaking probation, a sentence which was carried out.
Joe is a decorated veteran who served three terms in Afghanistan and has two purple hearts to show for his bravery. This Green Beret survived an IED and a suicide bomber, as well as a terrifying experience getting trapped in a sinking truck with his fellow soldiers and Joe was the only soldier to make it out of the truck alive.
While following a creek, the road gave way, causing the truck Joe and his men were in to be submerged underwater. Unable to move, Joe was trapped in place and forced to feel the water rise up his legs, his torso, and his neck. Finally, it stopped at his chin.
Considering this terrifying brush with death, as well as his other horrifying experience in the war, Joe suffers from PTSD. One of his triggers, which he blames on the sinking truck, is a fear of small, confined space such as a jail cell.
So when Judge Olivera sentenced Joe to a night in jail, he was sending this war vet to one of his very worst fears.
Moments after Joe was locked away for his night in prison, he was surprised by Judge Olivera, who came to stay the entire night with the man he had sent to jail. (Judge Olivera was an Army veteran who served in the Gulf War)
Joe said that with Judge Olivera there, “the walls were no longer there.” His anxiety and fear melted away, and he was able to have a genuine conversation with this wonderful person.
After this night in jail, Joe promised Judge Olivera that there would be no more screw-ups. This might not be the usual way the law works, but this act of connecting and compassion was exactly what this brave veteran needed.
This is the kind of thing Jesus did for us. He left the comfort of Heaven and came to spend time with us here on earth. Ultimately, He paid the price for all our screw-ups by giving His life on the cross.
I’m not saying that you need to spend a night in jail or give your life on a cross.
What I am saying is that we need to slow down a little and open our eyes. Stop being so focused on ourselves and see who and where we can help others.