I’ve often found myself wondering how I, just one gal from South Carolina, can make a difference in the globe. I’d be willing to guess that you’ve asked yourself the same question too. And sadly, I think somewhere along the way, I resolved that I wasn’t entirely sure that I could do anything myself, but I could at least support missionaries who were…or who seemed to be. So for a long time, I think I just became part of the status quo…and therefore, probably part of a problem as well. Do-gooder somewhere buried amidst feelings of some sort of hopelessness.
About 6 years ago, something began to really stir within both my husband and my heart. We began to realize that somehow we were missing out on who God must really be. We’d both grown up in typical Southern churches and had spent lives of mediocre christianity that floundered around through high school and college. I guess for both of us, our individual faiths began to take more shape one we had each entered the world as young adults. But still…by all intents and purposes, from the outside looking in, there didn’t appear to be anything special about any callings we had or lives we were living. I was steeped somehow in mediocrity that for the most part beyond trying to invest in a few individuals around me, was pretty much not changing anyone’s life…least of all my own.
Then something happened. We were in a group of people who all pretty much felt the same. And we began to ask questions, and search the scriptures, and really figure out about the person of Jesus. Suddenly, something snapped in us. A light came on. Walls began to blow off of the tidy box that I’d wrapped God in somewhere in my younger years, my life began to get pretty messy, but somehow even amidst the mess, I began to feel more alive….more interested in God, energized by time spent with him, and completely shocked and in awe of this person of God I’d somehow missed my entire life. Suddenly, the Living God became just that…Living.
And as I’ve begun to get to know God in this fresh and intimate way over the past few years, he’s done something in my heart. He’s set it ablaze to make a difference. As I recognize who God says that I am, I suddenly realize the intense love and compassion that he has for others. As I’ve begun to walk with the Living God, I find myself wanting to be a breather of life into others.
There are chances to do that EVERYWHERE.
And by all intents and purposes, I wouldn’t say that there has been any completely radical thing that I’ve begun to do just yet. Just like everyone else, I’m trying to figure it out. Trying to understand who God has made me to be, to walk boldly in that calling, and to love and serve others along the way. To use any influence that I have to that degree as well, both online and in my actual life.
A couple of years ago I led a group study that dove headfirst into some ideas of hospitality. I searched the Scriptures to learn more about it, and about the people who were characterized by it. While every spiritual gifts test I’ve ever taken tells me that I’ve got it, the scriptures taught me something different about it…sometime real. I realized that hospitality isn’t a gift given just to some, but it’s a requirement of all believers in Christ. That it’s not just an outward expression of service, but rather an inward posture of the heart. Hospitality is learning to open our hearts to others, to love others well, and to serve from that place of love. Hospitality isn’t a thing to do, it’s a way to live.
When I was in Bangladesh with Food for the Hungry back in January, the Lord reminded me that serving isn’t a matter of doing, but of loving. I guess some part of me went with the idea to serve people…to do things for them…to make their life better somehow. But somewhere in there, the Lord told me to “just love.” To be who He created me to be, and to love. To meet people in their need and to fill it with love. That serving people is loving them in their space of need. And sometimes serving people is just loving them plain and simple. There are no untouchables in the Kingdom of Heaven.
So I’ve been learning that if I want to matter in the world…I have to love people first. I won’t ever make a hill of beans true difference if I just do without being rooted in loving others. But there are things we can do too. I can invest in my neighbors. I can take a meal when my friend across the street has heart surgery. I can love on my friend Melissa’s kids and remind them how much their mommy, who is in heaven now, loves them. I can sponsor a child with Food for the Hungry and invest into her community, and ask others to do the same. I can meet people in their need and stoop to pray for them in the middle of a grocery store parking lot. I can invest into young marrieds to train them how to prepare a meal for their families. And I can spend my dollars in ways that give life to others. I may not be radical yet, but I can tell you that I’m sure wanting to get there more.
I think that “the church” as a whole is failing our culture. And growing up conservative in the South certainly didn’t condition me to be open-minded by some standards, but I think what I’m learning is that open-mindedness isn’t necessarily what I want to be…but open hearted is. I want the love I’ve been shown by a good heavenly Father to spill out of me and soak others…not matter how similar or different our lives may be. We have to love well…love ourselves and love those around us.
My heart is learning to love without boundaries. My life is bending towards helping others learn to do the same. And my travel plans for this year include a meeting of like-minded, and like-hearted people in September in Austin, TX for the Idea Camp.
“We will facilitate fresh, honest and transformative conversations with leading thinkers and practitioners on topics including how the church cares for the vulnerable, the other and self while unpacking how differences of gender, race, mental health, and age influence our approach. Our desire is to live life as God’s loving expressions of grace and hope to our world through tangible acts of care for all of humanity.”
Yes…that. And I can’t help but wonder, and be excited by how much we can begin to change the world by each being the one that we are called to be, and banding with others who are walking in their callings as well. Strength in numbers, power in connecting, and a group moving together to bring change. A sandstorm doesn’t make a difference if it’s only composed of 1 grain….but hundreds of grains, thousands of grains in motion together can change a landscape entirely.
Join us un September at The Idea Camp as we gather to encourage, inspire, and have conversations to put into motion more effective, and practical ways to not just live differently, but to love differently.