What are You Drawing From and Dying To?
Confession: My most natural tendency is to turn inward.
On a particularly bad day recently, I had a moment at work with one of my clients. This client is one of the sweetest old men who is go-with-the-flow, and always smiling if you pay him even the smallest bit of attention. He doesn’t talk a lot, but anyone who sees him will tell me it’s clear he really loves being around me because he’s always pointing at me and smiling when I am not looking, probably because he is proud to have me in his life somewhere.
In the car on this particular day, God asked me if I would simply look up. I didn’t have to move from the headspace I was in, but I did have to lift my head up. When I did, I saw my client. Like a gentle brigade of water falling forth, God began to speak to me about the investment my small presence has been to this man and his life since coming into our day program. God reminded me that this man’s life is richer because of my presence in it.
Ever since that moment, God has been challenging me with a question about whether or not that’s enough.
If I only left one rich impression for my entire life on a man in his 60’s by simply showing up day after day in the absolute mundane, simply because it makes his life brighter, would that be enough?
It’s like asking if a job and the money I make is enough.
If my church and the body of believers I’m part of is enough.
If my hometown and the places I frequent are enough.
If the friends I have and spend time with consistently are enough.
In that enough I contend with on the daily, it is so easy to forget that my presence matters, is special, and without it, nothing is the same.
For a really long time, I had trouble with this idea and always felt stuck. My own problems only ever lead me inward and honestly, isolate me. It’s a vital part of life for me to turn inward and reflect, but it’s also good for me to look outward and keep trying even when rejection comes.
When money is tight, when someone might be hurting me, when the places I frequent begin feeling stale, and friends are messy and dealing with their own very human things, it can oftentimes feel like nothing is bearing fruit. It’s so easy to grab hold of the high moments and hold onto them like a trophy in those moments of thirst.
But God even created the valleys and showed up there.
I’ve been learning really deeply lately how showing up speaks loudest when we do it in the lowest of lows and when we sacrifice to simply be in the presence of a friend (or client) who might need it. Even when my own circumstances threaten to tear me down, what am I dying to and what am I truly drawing from when the world around me feels like it’s crumbling to the ground?
My church does a course series called the First Principles and I am 2/3 of the way done. My group’s most recent discussion was centered around the idea of dying to self and showing up despite the pain that might entrench us and expose us to the family of believers we surround ourselves with. This particular book and the discussions my group has been having are challenging me to the point of bending, breaking, and remolding, which I think is the whole point of the series.
But when it gets to this point of the bending, breaking, and remolding, I get angry and resist by retreating inward, which breaks me even more because then I am faced with my own brokenness and forced to look outward again with a new perspective — the one Christ intends for us all to have.
Ann Voskamp asks us “How do you make a difference? You make a difference by doing things different… You can’t make a difference until you listen to the world differently than everyone else does.”
Sometimes I can get so entrenched in the rabbit hole that is myself that I completely forget about the people I’m spending everyday with. I can get so focused in on who I want in my life, or who I’ve chosen to put there, that I forget about the ones who are there because they have chosen me, or maybe I had no choice in the matter. Furthermore, I even forget that my very presence may make someone else’s life better — and that they may never tell me.
What am I drawing from? What am I dying to?
Is what I’m drawing from and dying to enough?
Are people lives enriched because I’m reaching out? Or am I waiting on the action someone else may never take? (It’s a risk to reach out, after all).
How is my listening informing the way I act and love every hour?
We must be reminded daily that our presence matters and that what we offer this world with it is important and leaves fingerprints everywhere.