Last year I went to Africa. Twice. I already wrote several blogs about that (see here and here) so I won't review everything that happened, but visiting a much poorer country awakened me to something that has bothered me my entire life. I spent most of my childhood overseas in Asia and had very different experiences than most people I know who grew up in America. Some were good and some made me want to come "home," but the older I get the more I realize that I haven't yet found out where my home really is.
What has consistently bothered me is the mindset that I slip into once I return from an overseas trip. While I am there it is easy for me to be all about everyone else. I can jump in and serve the team, even doing things I absolutely hate doing, with utter joy. Being off my schedule doesn't bother me much and for however long I am there I don't even worry about my business.
Coming home last year was the hardest part of each trip. I felt a slight feeling of desperation. I don't know that Virginia, or even America, is home for me, and I know that as soon as the plane lands my brain switches back to business mode. I become less joyful, less servant-hearted, and less loving - even in my own home. There is nothing magical about Africa. It is all within my heart, and I slowly allow myself to become more selfish with my time and the gifts I've been given when I am back.
I have realized that as much as this is 100% of my fault, it is also a result of the society around me. If I'm being honest, I have more than I need of almost everything. I have lots of time. I have the means to live and live well. Meanwhile, articles online and podcasts and blogs are all saying that I need to do more for myself. I need "me" time. I need time away. I need to invest in spoiling myself once in awhile. I need to do things each day to make me happy.
Me, me, me. It's not all wrong, and it's not all bad. I can't live my life in seclusion from happiness, and I am going to spend money on things that are wants rather than needs. But why am I listening to a world that is telling me to try harder to please myself when Jesus tells me to "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit" (Philippians 2:3). Why do I want my life to be more selfish than it already is, for Jesus "... did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)
In lifting myself up, I am going to inevitably put others down, whether intentionally or not. I must fight daily to be unselfish. I must guard myself against using my time and money only to make me happy. And for this season I'm pondering the questions...what if I did one thing each day to make someone else happy? How would the world look then?
Have some thoughts? Comment and tell me what you think below!