Jennie is my younger sister, the youngest of my mom’s four children. I was twelve years old when Jennie was born. So I became a convenient built-in baby sitter—until I left home.
Like all little kids, Jennie loved to be chased and to hide while I hunted her down. But the peculiar way Jennie “hid” made her very easy to find. Around the time she was three years old, Jennie would hide by sitting in a corner of the room and covering her eyes with her hands. Little Jennie thought that if she couldn’t see, then she couldn’t be seen. If she shut her eyes, she was shutting out the world. In a sense, she thought what was not visible to her did not exist. Of course now—many years later—Jennie has outgrown that little kid’s view of reality.
But don’t laugh at little Jennie. Many adults seem to never progress out of this child’s way of viewing the world. I believe the outlook is called egocentric. All other things and people exist for me. In fact, apart from me all people and things have no existence. Other views besides my own have no validity, for I am the custodian of truth. What I enjoy, all others should enjoy and what I hate others must hate. If other people have ideas that differ from mine, there must be something wrong with them, for I am the ideal after which others should model themselves.
In contrast, normal growth requires the ever-expanding awareness of other people who are just as real and just as important as I. Other ideas and preferences are just as valid as mine and other life experiences just as genuine as my own.
Perhaps this outward awareness in personal growth can be compared to the ever-increasing worldview in astronomy. In the history of astronomy, we have moved from a geocentric view (that the earth is the center of the universe), to a heliocentric view (that the sun is the center of the universe), to the recognition that our sun is just one of many stars in our universe—the Milky Way, to the realization that our Milky Way is just one galaxy among billions of galaxies spread out over 25 billion light years. Our world just keeps getting bigger and bigger—as does the God Who created it all. Our growing concept of reality encompasses others, their insights, and their experiences and incorporates them into our own worldview.
This is not compromise. Certainly, this is the birth and development of humility in us—the realization of our limitations and of our proper place in the community of humankind and in the Kingdom of God.
In the Psalms, King David wrote, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3–4). An outward view of other people, our universe, and God Who created them all will give us a sober view of ourselves.
Dear Father in heaven, draw my focus from off myself and my own little world and open my eyes to the world of people around me and the God Who loves me. Get me in touch with reality. Amen.