For one of the first times since being home, this past Wednesday morning I felt alive and like myself again. I had the opportunity to serve at a food pantry in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Cincinnati. This food pantry is run out of a church, a church that is in the process of starting a nonprofit to run the food pantry, start an afterschool program and eventually a counseling center. Just reflecting on how this demonstrates the Gospel in my eyes is getting me excited. More on the church another time. But, the food pantry allows people to come and shop through the store, I got to be a personal shopper to the patrons. I felt like God allowed me to step out of my present circumstances and into the story He’s writing for so many others. I asked each person I helped what their name was and tried to remember it and use it as often as I could – who doesn’t like to felt known as an individual? I felt so lucky to be Jesus’ hands and feet for a couple of hours… so life feels so me centered that to worry about other people reminded me of what my purpose in life is – to walk closely with Jesus.
Besides having an awesome opportunity to serve, some of my thoughts while at the pantry and reflecting over the experience have been significant. I kept thinking, “Maybe someone will write a book about this food pantry and it will get national news coverage.” “If they only used social media, maybe the food pantry could get more funding and donations, and be able to serve even better.” In my mind, I took something so beautiful and God-honoring and made it into something for man to take credit for and praise. For the pastor and the volunteers, serving isn’t about having others see it happen, or even about getting as much funding as possible, it’s about doing God’s work, even if it’s without praise and attention. I’ve continued to chew on this idea this week – am I willing to do what God calls me to without any attention? What if I never get to write a book about my life, does that still mean my life was worth living? Is it 100% about God being glorified, or is it a tiny bit about me?
In today’s world, it seems like everyone has a blog, or a book, or at least a twitter, if not all three. This is not a bad thing, it simply points to the notion that we all want to be known. We want to know that we matter. We do. If I could get it through my head that I am already deeply known and loved, I would feel less pressure to do the right thing and focus on doing something. I would write more, unconcerned with who reads it and what they think. I would serve better, no thinking about who is watching. I’ve loved reading through the book of Mark in the past month. I’ve been captivated by the image of Jesus, a man by whom people were amazed. As I reflected over my experience at the food pantry, I’ve been reminded of the idea that He must become greater and I must become less. I must abandon myself in the pursuit of Him; I cannot expect to find satisfaction while being self-consumed. I must hold in tension two things:
- I am deeply known and loved; my voice and story matter
- It is not, has never been and never will be about me
I am called to walk closely with Jesus, to honor Him first and foremost in my life. I am not promised fame or popularity. I may never get married, become a mom, write a book, or host a talk show. Am I okay with knowing that it’s not about me? That I may never see fruit of my labor? But that no matter what, Jesus is worth it. What about you? Do you wrestle with remembering that you’re not the center of the story? Please tell me I’m not the only one!