Just One Person

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A few weeks ago the hospital I work for sent out an email asking for volunteers. We were participating in “Make a Difference Day” today by working at a local food bank. I asked several work friends to join but it ended up just being me.

Once inside, the director of the food bank gave a tour, explaining the process, where the food comes from, threw a bunch of staggering statistics about hunger and sent us to begin the day. She mentioned that she often gets asked how helpful it really is for groups like us to show up once a year and give a few hours. She said extremely. We bagged apples & oranges for school kids. We made bags of oatmeal for their breakfasts. We sorted food. We made backpacks for the kids with assorted meals that were kid prep friendly. Afterwards, we all just left. Climbed in our cars and drove away to our food filled residences. Well, some of us did. I drove to work and put in a few hours.

After working a few hours, I went with another friend to see the movie “Priceless.” It was remarkable. It is based on true events about a man that fights to save two women in the sex slave industry. My friend and I both began crying during the previews so by the time the movie was over, I felt like I had been crying for hours. I guess I had. Without going into the movie and spoiling it for you, because you need to watch it, I began thinking that he was just one man. What can he really accomplish?

I was reminded of this morning’s speech from the food bank director. That every volunteer helps feed those hungry babies. That my 3 measly hours helped to ensure that 380 backpacks were ready for this week. And that is nowhere near the 1500 they need for the handful of schools they are serving. As hard as we worked for 3 hours this morning, we barely scratched the surface of the needs of this area’s children. The 60 of us could have worked 8 hours and had them ready for the week with a decent dent in the process, but it would have required 60 of us for 16-20 hours to really get them ahead of the game. We will never see the face of the child that is eating our oatmeal, or feeding themselves dinner because mom is working, or God forbid, doing something awful. So what was the point of our time?

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Well, I felt better about myself momentarily. Up until I started writing this even. At this point, I just feel like a self righteous pious pig but stick around. I’m not done.

So am I just self righteous & pious? No.

Can one person make a difference? Yes.

All these posts, every word, every comma, every time I tell you that I love you, are attempts to make a difference. Every time I give a hug, volunteer my time, give advice (solicited or unsolicited), I am praying my heart for the broken is showing. Every time I cry in the car or silently in my bed or while I’m sitting at work because my friends are hurting, I beg God to help me be the light. To be HIS light. To bring healing to those in need. To open my eyes to the needs and pains of others so that He can use me~however needed.

Do I think I have it all together and that I know best? No. I do not claim to have it all together. I am far from perfect. I make mistakes. I am messy. I can be a disaster. But I am also listening. To you. To God. To my past. To your past. To what God wants you to know about you.

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Am I making the difference I hope to be making? I sure as heck hope so. I don’t think I’ve saved the world. But the mini impacts we each have every day still have the ripple effect. Every ripple creates more and more impacts going further, touching more and more lives. I will never know the full extent of my words, the hugs I give, the prayers I pray, the grace I show, the love I give. But even if I never saw one tiny change, even knowing I will never see one precious face eating the orange I packed today, I’m still going to show up for these moments.

Wait, if we are sharing our hearts, we are changing lives. They are more than moments, aren’t they? They are life events. They are extravagant celebrations. They are beauty. They are in the most simple form, love. And I know without a doubt that LOVE can change the world. One person at a time.

The amazing thing about our hearts? The more we pour out of them, the fuller they become and the more they hold. Go out and share your beautiful hearts. Make the difference you were created to make because someone is waiting for your impact to make their difference. One person can change the world.

Love you bunches.

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The Car

Have you ever bought a new car?

I have. Several, in fact.

I mean I have been driving for nearly 30 years. Really? Is this possible? (Picture me counting on my fingers here…) Holy cow. Yes. Nearly 30 years. Wowzers. Gross. Ok. Now that my age has caught up with the rest of me, let’s get back to discussing my car.

The car I drive now is a Lexus purchased 8 years ago by my ex husband & I. At the time, it was 4 years old. More math. That makes my car 12 years old. When we bought the car, it was for several reasons. It was safe, it has a great resale value, fit the needs of our family, and was cheaper than a new car from any maker.

So I began to think that maybe it is time to begin looking for a new to me car. I set up an appointment for yesterday after work. The car I was looking at would also be safe, have great resale value and was cheaper than the Lexus 8 years ago. And was a Mercedes. I promise, although it appears it, I am not pretentious. Money doesn’t matter much to me, but shiny things are fun. And I do love a pretty car. And don’t forget, I said it would cost LESS than my current car cost me 8 years ago. I enlisted the assistance of wise counsel. A couple I trust from church was asked to help with the process. He met me there and did the test drive with me, asked the right questions.

I began to falter on my choice at one point. I said “why do I need this car? What about that car?,” pointing to a Malibu. The salesman walked away for a moment and Lance looked at me and said “I have the thought that you are questioning if you deserve this car.” SLAM. Right in the face. Ouch.

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Thus began an hours long mental debate.

Sometimes someone says something to us that smacks of truth. I like to be that person for others. Verbal smacks are kind of my trademark. Just ask the besties. Getting them is a stinger. I wasn’t hurt by his words. I just had never thought of the concept of deserving a new car. I mean, it’s a car. I have to have one. Does it matter if it’s a Malibu or a Mercedes? No. Not really. But by the time I got home several hours later, I was a little crazy inside.

What is my motive for the Mercedes? What am I trying to prove? Who am I proving it to? Why not a less glitzy car? I began this exact conversation with my roomie. I got choked up when I got to the proving something to people part. I realized that buying a Mercedes had several elements involved. Yes, it would last forever. Yes, it would hold its resale value. Yes, it would be very safe. Yes, it has All Wheel Drive, which I prefer for winters. AND it would be my “I CAN survive!” to all the people who have pushed me down, then backed a tank over me to make sure I stayed down.

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Is the Mercedes worth pushing my budget to have? I truly do love the car. Financially, I would be fine. Decisions, Decisions. So I went to bed. It’s where I do my best avoidances.

I woke up this morning. Had a revelation?? Nope. Well, sorta. I realized that whether I drive a Malibu, a Mercedes or a 12-year-old Lexus has no bearing on my worthiness. My self-worth is not tied to a car. My self-worth is not meant to be tied to those horribly broken people who have hurt me, intentionally or unintentionally. My self-worth needs to be cleared of these wounds. I find that as I heal, I am more and more able to identify these triggers. I am able to take the grace I extend towards others & grant myself some of it. It’s not in a cup. I’m not going to run out by giving myself a little.

Now, for a little of my Jesus Freak. I can’t place my self-worth in myself. How’s that for skitchy? I know. My self worth has to come from a place of seeing myself through the eyes of God. Which surprisingly is how I try to see others all the time. Why would I change glasses when looking at myself? Why do I view others through the glasses with hearts, flowers and boundless love but when I look at myself, the glasses are full of disgrace, condemnation, and ugly? Is that what God would want me to do? No. In His eyes, I am perfect, flawless, beautiful and shining bright. Some would think “what a tremendous expectation to try to live up to.” Not at all. What it means is that regardless of my car choice, clothing choice, life choices, He will ALWAYS see me at perfect, flawless, beautiful and shining bright. That is actually freedom. That is embrace-able, it is healing.

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Oh, and about the car? Still not sure. I just know that whatever I do decide will be in MY best interest. Not in the interest of proving jack to anyone else. If you don’t like my car, don’t get in it. If it matters that much to you, it’s probably in your best interest to find another way around anyways.

Don’t get me wrong, some opinions matter. IF I am making a life choice that is dangerous, or planning to switch careers, move across the country, join a cult…seeking the opinions of people with wisdom is always a great idea. However, placing my value in their opinions is a terrible idea. People that love me will value me because I’m me, not because of my stuff. Just like I value them because they are them. Stuff is stuff. It breaks, gets lost and goes away. People are hearts, souls, and irreplaceable. People are precious.

Love your self. Love your peeps. Love the uglies. And give yourself a little grace. It’s a beautiful gift.