Each kindness enhances the quality of life. Each cruelty diminishes it.
– Desmond Tutu, Made for Goodness
Because the more you know, the more you’re responsible for.
Do I want to know more?
I go to the PAR meeting (Prepare and Respond for disaster relief) anyway because I’m free that night and Jeff is already involved. And I do care about helping when disasters strike, but I can’t run a chainsaw and I’m not strong and . . . . (I can go on and on).
I feel inadequate.
Does it matter?
The measure by which we judge success or failure is not God’s yardstick.
In fact, success and failure are often more a testament to our own arrogance.
So at the meeting when Jennifer announces dates for a new training—for counseling and ministry in those emergencies—I lean in. I check my calendar. I imagine the possibilities.
Being heard into healing is a basic human need that we all share.
If we are lucky or blessed, we find people with the gift of presence.
These are people who can hear us into healing.
After Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf coast in 2005, I tore down sheetrock and cleaned out kitchens and picked up limbs.
But my favorite thing was holding hands with homeowners and crying with mamas and praying with families.
Yet Jennifer is talking about even more, about FEMA forms and case work and sticking with a family throughout recovery.
I feel inadequate for that, too.
Does it matter?
It doesn’t matter if we are successful in this moment, in our lifetime, or in our generation.
It matters only that we are faithful. We can choose goodness no matter the circumstances….
When we stop being harried by the pursuit of success, our lives will reflect the goodness in us.
When I receive the email invitation for training, I sign up anyway. A friend signs up with me.
At the training we learn about more volunteer organizations and EMA and are invited to take FEMA training on-line.
I just don’t know. The needs in disasters will be too complex and the jobs too big and the people too many.
I hesitate again.
With God’s eyes we can see ourselves as we are, with all of our pride, every lack,
all our limitations,and each prejudice. And we can see ourselves
as we truly are—not sinners in need of saving but saints in need of seeing.
And all of us are good. No, not just good, but very good.
We are precious to God, the crown of creation, beautiful beyond compare. Very, very good.
So God works in the waiting. He . . .
- sends me this song, “Give me faith to trust what You say”
- takes me to step 2 in compassion, “Look at Your Own World”
- coordinates a random encounter for me with Alice a few days later at a church conference on Servant-Leadership, the same Alice who spoke at the training session about her group Keep Volunteering.
I hear God saying, “It matters.”
So I’m in.
Even though I am inadequate for it.
But I know Who always is adequate. I know Jesus is always enough.
And I know he never sends us without going with us.
Will my preparedness and willingness and help matter when the next disaster strikes?
It won’t matter to all, but it might matter to one.
And if not to someone, at least to me.
And if at least to me, then definitely to God.
Does that matter?
Yes, it matters.
When you see people wronged or in pain
In case all you can do is not enough,
In case you cannot fix the fault,
In case you cannot soothe the searing,
In case you cannot make it right.
What does it matter if you do not make it right?
What does it matter if your efforts move no mountains?
It matters not at all.
It only matters that you live the truth of you.
It only matters that you push back the veil to let your goodness shine through.
It only matters that you live as I have made you.
It only matters that you are made for me.
Made like me,
Made for goodness.
– Desmond Tutu
* * *
When have you felt inadequate to join a new ministry? How did you overcome it?
I need to hear.
Quotes from Made for Compassion, by Desmond Tutu, a book I just finished and highly recommend.
- Memorizing Isaiah 55:3
- The tale of two babies