I divided and transplanted some crowded and unhappy herbs yesterday. Since then, I have caught myself a half dozen times just staring at them through the sliding glass door, watching for signs of growth or maybe just happiness. I know–sounds weird and ridiculous. But this is not isolated behavior. Last summer I found a huge water beetle in our garage. I don’t know what he was doing there; it was very hot and dry and we don’t live near any water. I decided to rescue him and make him a pet for my boys. We called him Oscar (short for Oscar Meyer) because I discovered he liked to eat hot dogs. I researched him online, put him in a fish tank, provided him with a habitat, and regularly fed him and changed his water. Just like with the herbs, I found myself just watching him. I became attached to a beetle; I noticed and appreciated his behavior. I wanted to see signs that I had done him good and that he was content. I wanted to show him off to other people. A beetle! I may be a little excessive or maybe I just find weird ways to apply it, but this is actually just a common principle in action. We become interested in what we invest in.
Why do we find our own children so much more pleasant and interesting than anyone else’s? Logically, we know they are not superior to all other children simply because they have our DNA. In many cases, logic would lead us to the opposite conclusion. The answer is that we are invested up to our eyeballs with them! Sounds simple, but this principle has huge practical implications. If I want to be obsessed with my own comfort or appearance, all I have to do is spend a good deal of my thought life, my time, and my resources cultivating those things. Viola! Now I am genuinely most concerned about me. Unfortunately, I think it is safe to say that is not difficult for most of us. I think we all feel guilty at one time or another for not caring enough about the things that matter. We recognize that we are wrapped up in ourselves. Digging our feet in, clenching our teeth, and willing ourselves to care more just doesn’t work.
But what happens when I begin to volunteer for a cause or spend time with those I think I ought to have more compassion for? What happens when I intentionally do things to touch my husband’s heart or offer to help a friend in need? Or when I go without so someone else can be blessed? Bit by bit, or sometimes quite suddenly, my heart is filled with compassion, affection, and a compulsion to pour even more into the things that matter. That which I intentionally invest in will capture my heart. In my case, even if it is chives and a water beetle. Interestingly enough, Jesus was also familiar with this principle. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt. 6:21