We moved into this house in a rush. I was a little down about having to leave the house I thought we’d live in forever, the house I thought my ex and I would welcome grandchildren in for sleepovers and host family barbecues like those my Grandparents threw. Moving into this house didn’t leave me the energy or desire to do much decorating so when I hung the photos of the boys in the living room, it really stood out.
To me, it wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t place them in any particular order. I didn’t put one child’s photo ahead of another. I simply measured halfheartedly, hammered a few nails in the wall, and voila – pictures of my boys were hung.
But my boys see things differently, and it wasn’t long before I was
told of shown my mistake. I began to notice that the photos hung crookedly. I’d straighten them out only to find them crooked again a very short time later, but I did little more than scratch my head and wonder how they got so off center so often.
Then things got really weird, and I noticed photos were hung upside down. Again, I’d scratch my head and wonder. I no longer believed this was just the case of mishammered nails, but my snickering boys denied knowing anything, so I shrugged it off and simply continued fixing the pictures and wondering what was going on in their little heads.
This worked for a while.
But then the photos started disappearing completely, leaving nothing but bare nails sticking out of my wall, and I knew I had to pause whatever I was doing to figure out what was going on.
When I approached the boys this time I was confronted with the giggling, elbowing, you-tell-her kind of looks that tell me they’re up to something. Narrowing my eyes told them I meant business while inside I fought down my own giggles. I never know what will come out of their mouths at moments like these, but I usually find myself at a crossroads between outright laughter and total exasperation. Something told me this moment would be no different as they clamored over each other to explain, all talking at once.
Finally my oldest with big, sweeping gestures of his arms motioned to the circle which I had thoughtlessly hung their photos in, “Mom, look at this. You put him here (I no longer remember who was where) I am the oldest, I should be at the center of your world!”
Four other high pitched voices in varying states of pre-adolescence chimed in quickly, “NO, I’m the best. The world should revolve around me!” “No, you love me the most, I should be in the middle of everyone!” and so on.
My boys had been switching their pictures with whoever was in the center, and whoever had been in the center was then hung crookedly, upside down, or eventually removed from the wall all together.
Laughter or exasperation??? They drive me crazy, but their games amuse me too, and I laughingly let this one continue until Troy hid Noah’s photo so well, he couldn’t remember where he’d put it and poor Noah was represented by nothing more than a nail driven in an empty place in the wall for months.
Boys will compete over anything and that they would want to be the “center of the world” should have been no surprise. This has been a running theme for all time, and it’s one we see clearly in Sunday’s Gospel as the disciples fight over who among them is the greatest in the kingdom.
In Mark 9:30-37, the disciples, such holy men, were no different from my foolish boys. They were concerned with man’s opinion of greatness, a shallow, containable, measurable interpretation of greatness. Because man’s respect, admiration, and love have limits, we can measure ourselves against them and feel capable of comparing or greatness to another’s.
But this is not the true greatness we were designed for.
When we measure ourselves against our own greatness, we are destined for disappointment. None of us is perfect. None of us can uphold greatness indefinitely. Eventually, even the so-called best among us, will fail in some way. We will let down those counting on us. We will let down ourselves.
But we do not let down God.
It’s interesting to note that God knows all of our failures long before we commit to them, and yet He Loves us perfectly anyway. God see us in our private, ugliest moments when we do what we know we should not do and yet He welcomes us into His embrace. The Father hears our cries against our fellow man, against Himself, and against His Son and yet He forgives us. God in His perfect Greatness sees our lack of greatness more clearly than even we ourselves do, and yet He is the one who gives us our greatness.
You see, Greatness in the Kingdom doesn’t come from our fellow man. Greatness doesn’t come from the houses we live in or the clothes we wear or the cars we drive. Greatness doesn’t come from the number of hours we enjoy with family or the time donated to volunteering for a worthy cause or how long we spend sitting in a church.
Greatness is something intrinsic in each of God’s creations simply because we were created by a Great Creator.
Greatness is when the Lord shines through more than we do. Greatness is when we do something well and humbly give credit to the one who gave us that ability. Greatness is when we are hurt by someone and find the will to Love him anyway. Greatness is when we are exhausted and think we cannot go on but smile and find the will to continue on the right path, the will to do the next right thing.
Greatness is what you were made for. Greatness is not bragged about because it is not comparable. Greatness simply is.
Your definition of greatness is contained only by how Great you believe the Creator is forming you to be. How can you honor your Great Creator by doing something requiring true Greatness today?
Go Forth and Be Great!
*Single Mom Smiling Gospel Reflections for the Divorced usually come out Monday mornings. I was having a hard time with this one, because I think I was confused by what Greatness is. Let me know if I’ve gotten it right – finally! 🙂
Subscribed to Single Mom Smiling’s monthly newsletter yet?
And, as always, thanks for commenting, liking, following, and sharing!