Recently I was part of a discussion that centered around a quote that read, in part: “Did I reach out as far as I could? Did I serve as many people as I could?”
One point of view that came up was that these questions can put a lot of pressure on the listener. The world is vast, and needs are great. It’s easy to become overwhelmed at how much there is to do, and how many needs there are to serve. The listener has to grapple with the very real question: how much am I contributing to the community around me? Where might I be cutting corners? How much more can I give? Is it ever okay to stop?
My attention was drawn to a specific part of the quotation, the repeated phrase: “as I could.” The speaker wasn’t asking “Did I reach out as far as anyone is able? Did I serve as many people as needed my help? Did I do the utmost possible? Did I push past all reasonable limits?”
Instead, I hear in these questions the invitation to assess what the individual listener is capable of. How can you show up today? What is possible? What are your strengths, what are your limitations? What are the necessary boundaries that keep you safe?
“Did I reach out as far as I could? Did I serve as many people as I could?”
I hear this as an inspiration to stretch, to challenge, to leave my comfort zone behind. And this phrase, “as I could,” is a gift that brings me into self-reflection and reckoning.