Years ago, I had one of those defining moments. You know what I’m talking about - the moments where you can remember where you were, what you were wearing, and the impression that was made at the time. This particular moment was unforgettable, and I am so glad that God allowed me to see it - really see it.
In our prep school, I started a community outreach program with our seniors called Just Cause. It was my hope that, through hearing the heart-cries of those in need, it would turn down the volume on the petty dramas of the teen years. When kids can see little ones that are homeless and helpless, it puts so much in perspective for them. It then gets hard to get upset about friends, dates, homework, and the internet being down or how to get the latest trendy shoe or designer handbag. These teens can focus on all that they do have instead of what they do not.
My husband preaches that we live like kings and queens compared to the rest of the world. We look in our closets and have the privilege of deciding what to wear. We look into our refrigerators and pantries and decide what to eat. In other words, we are the “haves” - we have choices. So it is no wonder that Jesus teaches so much about taking care of those in need throughout the gospels. He knew that there was a two-fold purpose in giving and serving. I saw this one day fully played out before my eyes. My Just Cause kids and I were at a daycare center for homeless children where we had done fundraising for backpacks filled with necessities, toys, and books. The homeless children were these adorable angels from birth to age 5.
We all fell in love! The kids were so excited and the teenagers were, as well. Everyone was on the floor playing, laughing, hugging, and just having the best time. I saw the labels that these teens wore in school quickly dissolve. The big, tough, football players were wrestling with these little guys on the floor and didn’t care who saw them. The shy students were reading and laughing, and the cheerleaders were doing hair and makeup with other girls who were usually not their friends. The beauty of this moment was that everyone was focusing on the needs of these little children as though time stood still. In this moment, everyone was equal. In this moment, I saw the best of these young people emerge as they were serving side by side. It was then that I coined the phrase that “we are at our best when we are serving.”
In service to a just cause, the love of God replaces the love of self. There is no hierarchy or status when we are actually doing the work of the gospel. The blessing in serving is that we help ourselves while we are helping others. We are becoming the best version of us, and isn’t it just like God to say, “Here is something for you, too, as you give to others.” We finally get to fit in somewhere - in the work of the true gospel there is room for everyone!
While standing in the daycare center, holding the cutest little guy my heart was broken, but forever changed. I was holding him as we were looking out the window together. He pointed to a house and asked, “What’s that?” I answered, “That’s a house,” to which he replied, “I want a house.” I was speechless - how do you answer that? I just hugged him and whispered “I know, Sweetheart.”
There was lasting irony that I observed that day and every visit since . . . although those precious children were the ones homeless, the teens were the ones that found a home. In the family of God, we all have a place. Haven’t all of us felt misplaced and homeless, sadly wishing we could belong and be loved? In the arms of our heavenly Father, there is home and He wants us to bring our brothers and sisters with us. That day we could not give houses but we could give love, we could serve and we could give -- and in the end, we all felt at home.