An often quoted scripture is Jesus’s warning, what good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Growing up I always wondered about that particular saying…how could one gain everything that they seemingly always wanted and somehow manage to lose what’s most important, the very essence of who they are? Now as an adult, and parent with competing pressures all around me, I better understand what Jesus may have been warning about. We all risk losing ourselves when we start searching for things that don’t really matter. The trick is knowing what matters.
This all came to a head for me yesterday evening. We were at my daughter’s school PTO meeting, something that I haven’t made the time to attend since the beginning of the year. For some reason, my wife and I felt compelled to press our way last night. I mean, if there ever was an excuse not to be a little more civically involved, last night presented so many options. It was the end of a long day, we were already tired. It was raining, and we had to slog through the downpour with all 3 kids huddled under 2 umbrellas and a 3 person stroller… At any rate, we made it and I’m glad we did. It happened to be PTO nomination night and as I continued to listen to the almost all women board of PTO members (there was one dad on the PTO), followed by the almost all male board of directors for the school- (there was one woman), I began to consider running.
Ultimately it was one conversation with the only other dad on the PTO who convinced me to run. He talked about the things that I typically notice- the fact that in a room full of parents there were only 4 of us (out of probably 30-40 parents present). He talked about how we needed representation. He talked about how since he’s been on the board for 2 years already, he can’t run again, but he hoped that I would. Then he made sure I threw my name in the hat to be nominated for a role.
Leaving the PTO meeting, I was kind of excited. Perhaps this will be a new beginning of civic engagement for me. I care deeply about parent engagement and I’ve been looking for more ways to expand my work in this area. Of course I was also a little pensive about how this might fit into my schedule with all my other duties and responsibilities. But this didn’t really seem to phase me. My excitement over the prospect of getting more involved in the PTO mushroomed into an evening of working on another one of my ventures, helping students identify and pursue their passions and purpose. Before I knew it, it was 11 o’clock and I’d been working on a few ideas for several hours. I’d lost myself in my own passions, after re-discovering my purpose earlier in the day. But it felt so awesome to lose myself this time.
That’s the kind of losing myself that I’m after, and this is the kind of losing yourself that I believe Jesus was really after for us. If you’re a Jesus follower, you’ve probably heard his famous speech about how in order to find yourself, you have to be willing to lose yourself. Funny thing is, that speech comes exactly before this same warning not to lose yourself in things that don’t matter. Sometimes as a parent, husband, father, [insert all the roles you play in life] it can be easy to lose yourself in the daily rat race of life, pursuing things that don’t matter simply because it seems like you have to to stay ahead. Thank God for interruptions like last night to remind me of what really matters. Now I don’t feel so lost.