It’s almost the end of January, the first month of a new year, and my friend Kathy has wisely suggested that I reflect on the new year. The truth is I have learned much – and not much at all – this last month, as is the way of life most times I suppose.
One thing that seems to have finally sunk in for me is that I don’t need to hurry all the time. When I take time and do one thing in each moment, I find myself enjoying what I’m doing and still having time to do most things I want/need to do. I feel like I’m here now, not in tomorrow where I was for a while. Plus, I’m finding myself doing things more thoughtfully and carefully. It feels very good.
Akin to this lesson, I see myself learning another – that I don’t have to participate in everything. Sometimes in my human arrogance, I seem to think that if I don’t do something it won’t get done or, at least, it won’t get done correctly. That committee can’t run without me; that decision can’t be made if I don’t give input; the world will spin off its axis if I don’t hold it up. This need to be involved comes from pride but also from loneliness and from a desire to be needed. I’m not more lonely or needy than the next person (at least I don’t think I am), but for me, the overextension of my time and my desire to poke my nose into everything seem to be the way I try to meet these needs. And in the process, the talents and responsibilities I have been truly given fall away.
This insight struck home a few weeks ago when my pastor preached on Acts 6 the other day. In this passage, the Greek believers and the Hebrew believers are fighting because the Hebrew believers felt that their widows were being neglected and they wanted the church leaders to do something about it. The Twelve, instead, realized that they need to focus on their commission and their vocation – “the ministry of the word” – and so they appointed seven men who were “known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom” to be in charge of the food distribution. The church leaders realize the needs of their flock but then they delegate the responsibility to others, accepting their need and calling to be people of the Word. There’s no judgment in not taking on this task, no condemnation that it is below them – simply acceptance that this is not their calling.
In Morocco, I saw this in action. Some of the folks on our work team are people that God has gifted with the ability to work with their hands. They have great physical (and spiritual strength), knowledge about construction, and the ability to work physically for hours in a day. These are not my strengths. My work comes in the word (and hopefully in the Word), and so while I was happy to help, I found myself in the way more than not on the worksite. This experience was humbling for me because I like to believe I can do everything – and surely if I had been needed on that site, I would have been able to work as was required. But I wasn’t needed there; I was needed for other things (prayer, cooking, photography, childcare, conversation with the people there). And once I accepted this, saw my calling in those actions – well, then my visit became all the more meaningful.
As I continue on into this new year, I find myself a little giddy with glee – we have a new president in whom I am ever hopeful especially given his first few policy decisions. I have a year ahead where writing will have the space to be more of my focus. I have friends – new and old – who I am thrilled to share my life with. I’m eating good food, checking out some great wine, finding new music . . . and underneath it all, I feel the peace that passes understanding. What a great thing.