I remember years ago when my husband had moved ahead of me to a new job, while I stayed behind to sell our home. I had two young children and no car. The house was up for sale but we didn’t know when it would sell. We didn’t know if we would find a new house. Everything was up in the air. A big question mark floated over our heads. All we could do was trust God.
However, each day I found myself returning to the problem. I was writing about anxieties. I was writing about worries. I was asking questions and seeking answers. I was a big stress ball. I couldn’t stand the uncertainty of what the future held.
Now, I recognize that it’s not about me. When I become so self-centred and self-absorbed I miss the big picture. When I worry about my own problems I lose out on the joy. There’s no happiness in only meeting my own needs. If I focus only on meeting my own needs, I get frustrated and tired and then when someone else needs help I am too tired to tend to them. There is nothing left in me.
I realize how easy it is to turn my energies inward, to focus on what I have to do, to worry about my day today and my future tomorrow. I can become consumed with self-doubt and self-pity. The more I search for answers to my questions, the more frustrated I become in not finding the solutions. And therein lies the problem. I am focused on the problem.
The Saint Francis prayer says that we should seek rather to comfort than to be comforted, to understand than to be understood, and to love than to be loved. Once I focus on helping others, I move away from my own problems and discover peace.
The only way out is to look out. Not look out for number one – which seems to be so popular in today’s culture – but rather look out for others. How can I help? What can I say to encourage that person? What can I do to offer comfort? And in looking out for others, in turn, I am fed.
It isn’t about me. It’s about helping others. And whether it is my own children, a friend or a stranger on the street, it doesn’t matter.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love Me more than these?’ “Yes, Lord,” he said, “You know that I love You.” Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love Me?” He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.’ Jesus said, “Take care of My sheep.”
The third time He said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” He said, ‘Lord You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed My sheep.’ (John 21:15-17 NIV)