edwardsj113x111You know how it is with inside jokes. They're only funny right up until they're true.

A group of friends and I have a running joke. One of us will ask someone else in the group for something outrageous. "Because," we'll say, "its all about me." Given the fact that we are all working moms, not one of us believes this. At least not on a good day.

Not long ago, I was waiting to pick up my son after school. Parents were huddled in little groups, obviously passing on some disturbing bit of news. Three weeks into the school year, we were losing two teachers to another school. Was this simply to fix an overcrowding problem? Or were they letting teachers go and shifting others to fill in the gaps? Like everywhere, money is tight in our district. I immediately thought of a friend who teaches at the high school and prayed his job was safe. When we got home, I called him but had to leave a short message.

As the day went on and I didn't get a return call, I worried. After all, I'd be too upset to make phone calls if I'd lost my job. Fortunately, I talked to someone from my son's school and learned that the changes really were limited to moving two teachers. For now, jobs were safe.

What a relief!

But my friend still didn't call back.

And he didn't call back.

Days past and instead of being glad that no one was losing their job, I became resentful. I had called him because I cared. How dare he not call me back?

On Sunday, I spotted him across the sanctuary and my shoulders tightened. I knew he'd say something to me after the service. We always visit and he always apologizes when something keeps him from calling back. But does he really mean it? All balled up in a snit, I worked and worked until I was ready with a snotty response to his upcoming apology.

At some point in the service, I quit fixating on my snit long enough to hear someone coughing. Wow. That didn't sound good. Then I saw my friend, shoulders hunched as he coughed. As I knew he would, he came up to me as soon as service was over. "Sorry I didn't call." I could barely hear him. "This is all the voice I have."

"No, I'm the one that's sorry." I really I was. How had I gone from concerned friend to self-centered snot? When did I start to believe that it really was all about me? Selfishness got a hold of me and somehow I had become far too impressed with my own very small good deed. I had forgotten to look out beyond myself at the person I claimed to be helping.

This week, I'm going to pay a bit more attention when I do something for someone else. I'm going to try to focus on them and make sure that what I'm doing is what they would ask for, because truly, it shouldn't be all about me, not all the time anyway.

Gazing Outward

Whether we are reaching
for the last sale item
or helping someone in need,
it is far too easy
to get wrapped up in ourselves.
We fail to see the other person,
complete with their own needs,
their own wants,
their own fears.
Please help me to turn my gaze
to You so that I can look outward
and upward
toward something bigger
than myself.

-Sue Bradford Edwards

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