Mahatma Ghandi once said: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in others.” Philippians 2:3 expands on this principle: “Do nothing from empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.“
It’s difficult in 21st century America to do anything other than think of ourselves! Whether it’s because we perceive our personal reality as too difficult or we’re reaping the whirlwind of our conditioned self-absorption, it doesn’t matter. The First Rule of Fight Club tends to be: it’s all about ME. (There is no second rule for this Fight Club.)
When a person like Ghandi or a scripture reference proposes a different way of thinking, we’re not always responsive to such countercultural (old-fashioned) notions. Am I right?
I don’t mean to suggest the American version of Fight Club renders us heartless exactly. Haven’t we all expressed concern for the 300 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram? And then there’s Meriam Ibrahim, held in a Sudanese prison for renouncing her Muslim faith and marrying an American man, a Christian. We hate that Ibrahim has been imprisoned along with her young child and has now delivered another child during her incarceration. Our stateside concern (and calls for diplomatic intervention) proves we’re not heartless. Such events are remote, on the perimeter of our consciousness.
Selflessness is hard for me … and I’ve been thinking about it frequently of late.
When my son-in-law told us several months ago that he’d signed up for a mission trip to Uganda, I realized this is one of a whole list of reasons why I admire this man. (Have I ever mentioned God blessed us abundantly with two wonderful sons-in-law and the perfect daughter-in-law? Well, he did!) But back to this specific son-in-law, pictured at right.
Please don’t get the wrong impression. Selflessness is hard for him too. But tomorrow, he’s moving way out of his comfort zone as he boards a plane to travel more than 8,000 miles to Uganda. Using his structural engineering expertise, he will engage in a building safety and expansion project with a group called Bless the Children Ministries (BTCM).
This will be his first trip out of the US and he will be going with others on the team to a 20-acre facility where there’s an orphanage and school. The existing buildings have been stretched far beyond their capacity to serve a growing population of needy children. BTCM has created a master plan for constructing additional buildings and grounds.
I’m guessing this will be the first of many trips to Uganda for my son-in-law. The blueprints he showed us reflect an expansion that won’t be completed during the ten-day trip. And I suspect, my son-in-law’s big heart is going to stretch wider and deeper as the Ugandan people he meets burrow into his soul.
I love that he’s involved in this project! Though he’s already a loving father and devoted husband, I have confidence this trip will transform the man he is today. He will (as Gandhi put it) be losing himself in others, certainly engaging with people much less fortunate than we Americans are. Because he’s a worker, a doer, he will also enjoy the satisfaction of witnessing a critically needed project take form.
Were I going on such a trip, I can’t fathom the trepidation I’d be experiencing! So many new (and unfamiliar) experiences ahead! (Can you guess? I’m not a pioneer. When the children were young, we camped out … but only where we could have electricity, a microwave, an electric skillet, etc. No, I’m definitely not a pioneer!)
But my son-in-law, one of my heroes, is acting upon his faith in a demonstrable way. Alas, he’s going to lose his Fight Club cred but gain something far more valuable. Please remember him (liberally … unselfishly) in your prayers. Thank you.