Sunday, May 17, 2009

Newton's First Law of Self-Centeredness

When they launch a satellite, it will pretty maintain it's given orbit over time unless a force acts upon it. The force acting on a satellite in this case is the earth, gradually pulling it closer and closer over time. The orbit will gradually degrades until it gets close enough to earth that it will burn up in the atmosphere. What I'm finding is that left on my own, my world will revolve around me and gradually degrade until my life becomes a self-absorbed mess.

I sat down the other day and tried to reflect on what my orbit looks like - what I'm doing in my life that is other centered and what I'm doing that is focused on me. My conclusion: I'm doing a lot of stuff centered on myself. I'll rearrange my life to make sure I can work-out or run, but I'm not as motivated with other-centered stuff, especially bigger things. Don't get me wrong, I'm still doing stuff like working with our junior high youth group and doing great stuff with my kids, but I feel like I'm in a self-centered rut and I don't like it. I know what an other-focused me looks like, and this isn't it.

It's not that I don't have the opportunity to do stuff for others, like go to downtown outreach and serve the poor or volunteer to help out around church with stuff. This is something that I've done a bunch of times in the past and I love it. Heck, in the bigger picture, I work for a company that would pay my salary for up to a year as part of their social leave program if I came up with the right project to serve the community with my skills. The challenge is actually breaking the inertia of my self-centered world to do it.

Newton's first law state that an object at rest remains at rest and an object in motion will remain in motion unless acted on by an unbalanced force. To top it off, to get that object moving from a standstill, you have to overcome an initial force called inertia. That inertia can be a bear to overcome on your own - almost impossible at times. This is where community comes in. When you have a group of people helping you with any goal - whether it's sobriety, fitness, spiritual formation or serving others - it's always easier to overcome inertia. They can love you, encourage you, push you beyond what you can do on your own.

The morning workout at 6am with the guys is so much easier than waking up and working out on my own. To top it off, riding there with Alex makes it even easier, because I know I've got someone going with me. Going to do Chaos on Monday nights is way easier to go knowing that I've got a great group of leaders to do it with. The same goes with the downtown outreach program. When I know I've got a group of friends going and encouraging me to go with them - that inertia goes away.

I'll end this with a quote from my friend Brad, who is once again using his mantra, "Life change happens best in community". I've gotta agree with him. I think I need more of that kind of community in my life.

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