Jim cracked me up with the story he told in his recent family newsletter.
He and his honey were enjoying some personal time at the Atlantic Ocean. Which is really big. Jim decided to take a picture of himself and the ocean. Which is really big.
Later, he made a disturbing discovery - which he reported this way. "I think I missed the ocean!"
Which is really big.
Oh, he's in the picture, all right. But the Atlantic is nowhere to be seen.
Now how can a smart guy miss something as big and beautiful as the ocean?
By totally focusing on himself.
I've made that mistake. Missing the big thing because I was so focused on myself. I suspect I'm not alone.
When we're hurting...when we're grieving...when we're grappling with a big problem - we tend to go inward and become all about ourselves.
We miss the person we married because we're so focused on our frustrations with them. Before we married them, we magnified what we loved and minimized what bothered us. Now we're all about our frustrations with them, forgetting all we loved about them.
So it's selfie time. All about me. Losing sight of the one we once could not live without. So we stop loving like we did, and they start responding to the change.
We can miss our kids the same way. By dwelling on how they're disappointing us, defying us, distancing themselves from us. So we're sucked into a cycle of seeing - and talking about - only what they need to change. Not seeing - and talking about - the big picture of their strengths and their potential. We focus the lens on our hurt and fear and frustration - and miss the big stuff. The masterpiece God made and entrusted to us.
I know how much my picture can become a selfie when I'm going through a hurting time. Pain tends to make us selfish. Self-centered. Self-pitying. All those nasty self words.
But my Bible tells me that there's always something bigger going on than the immediate situation. "All things work together for good to those who love God," it says (Romans 8:28). And it quotes God as saying, "I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).
There's a Big Plan. For my good. But I'll miss the big and beautiful part if all I focus on is my pain.
When my precious Karen was suddenly gone last May, my natural tendency was to be all about me - my grief, my life without her, my future.
But, thankfully, God quickly rescued me from my selfie. And began to show me what I could become through this greatest heartbreak of my life. I can honestly say my heart is more open than it's ever been - open to God's voice, open to letting my journey help others on their journey, open to the broken and breaking hearts all around me.
What's scary is that our "selfie" focus can actually cause us to miss the biggest and most beautiful sight of all.
The God who made us.
We so want to have life our way that we live as if we've dethroned Him from the throne of our life. In the Bible's words, "Each of us has turned to His own way" (Isaiah 53:6). And those "God, You run the universe, but I'll run me" choices have "separated you from your God" (Isaiah 59:2).
All about me. Missing the God who's the reason we're here. Whose love we're made for. Who thought we were worth sending His Son to die for.
The Ocean is right there, within my sight. Unless I'm blocking the view.