FULL-columnThere are some things in life that even a physicist can’t explain. Einstein was brilliant, but E=mc2 can’t solve everything. Beyond the mysteries of quantum mechanics lie even more puzzling equations: people. How do we interact?

I’ve been challenged with the following recently—how do I view my interactions with other people? Or perhaps the question is, Howshould I view my interactions with other people, especially as a Christian?

Although he is probably best known for authoring several famous children’s books including Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White also wrote essays for The New York Times. In one of his essays, titled “Incoming Basket,” White talks about the hardships of organizing his desk.

After belaboring a decision about his baskets for mail (the equivalents of our email inboxes and “sent” folders), he makes this observation: “I discovered by test that fully ninety per cent of whatever was on my desk at any given moment were IN things. Only ten per cent were OUT things—almost too few to warrant a special container.”

He goes on to note that our lives are this way too: more “IN” than “OUT.”

As students, we get up and we go to class (IN). Then there’s chapel (IN). We check Facebook (IN). We check email (IN). There’s nothing wrong with listening or reading or checking updates—listening is half of communicating. But what are we doing every day that is “OUT,” and is it honoring Christ? Who and what are we living for?

This idea came up recently in chapel when missionary Phil Hunt challenged the student body to think about what we are doing in the service of others and of Christ. Every day we receive countless benefits, and often we don’t even stop to be thankful. We are constantly taking in, but we seldom have time to send out.

Still—and I know it’s true for me—what we consider to be important is what we make time for. Do we really consider giving ourselves for others as being important?

So ask someone how his or her day is going. No … really ask them—and listen to the answer. Live out the Gospel for those around you. Forgive when others wrong you because, like the debtor in Matthew 18, we all have been forgiven more than we could ever repay. So give.

The whole point of giving is selflessness, but the amazing thing is that when we give, we also receive. Receive what? you might ask. The answer—joy.

Albert Einstein once said, “Life isn’t worth living unless it’s lived for someone else.” So maybe the physicist did have it figured out after all.

I think the question we should be asking ourselves is obvious—what’s in our OUT basket?