We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love. Mother Teresa
Are you grateful?
One of the amazing benefits of this work is meeting and connecting with truly remarkable people. Recently I’ve encountered some especially inspirational folks who’ve blessed and enriched my circle. I want to tell you about them, but I’m struggling for an appropriate description.
See, I’m not really a fan of labels.
Disabled? I prefer to think that we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Navigating life requires us to leverage the strengths and compensate for the weaknesses.
Normal? I have no idea what that even means. One thought might be that “normal” means operating as the designer intended. In that light, Jesus was the only normal person that’s ever lived. The rest of us are severely flawed.
Special needs? So who are the folks who don’t have special needs? Personally, I’ve never met one.
I find it more useful to think in terms of circles rather than labels. We’re all part of many circles.
We choose some of them—friends, colleagues, churches—because we share common goals, values, or interests.
Others are sort of by default—family, neighbors, co-workers. In those circles, you don’t have much choice. You take what you get, though I guess you can move, change jobs, or run away from home.
Some circles—well, I’d rather not be a member, but I get no choice. One example would be the circle of people with paralyzing spinal cord injuries. Even though I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and learned a great deal within that circle, I wouldn’t have chosen it.
And then there are people who willingly step into circles that most would never approach.
A REMARKABLE CIRCLE
The folks who’ve captured my attention recently demonstrate love and commitment that inspires and humbles. Perhaps I can best describe this circle by telling you what they are doing.
- They’re parents of children who struggle with life-altering physical, emotional, or mental illness or injury.
- They’re friends who’ve chosen to adopt teenagers scarred by a lifetime of physical and emotional abuse.
- They’re caretakers for adult friends or relatives.
- They’re folks who are selflessly helping and caring for people who need them.
That’s a circle most of us wouldn’t choose to enter, one that many flee at the first opportunity. It’s not a fun circle. Its unique rewards carry a high physical and emotional price tag.
You don’t usually get much attention for choosing that circle. Its members give much more than they get. They serve in difficult and often thankless circumstances.
What’s most striking about this circle is that it’s not characterized by discouragement and hopelessness. The people I encounter exhibit an improbable sense of passion. In situations that would plunge me into an endless sea of complaint, these folks display a contentment of which I can only dream.
I’m not being Pollyanna. These people experience their share of struggle, weariness, and despair. But despite the challenges, they stick with it. I guess that’s what impresses me most. They must be tempted to give up at times, but they don’t. They stay on the path.
I don’t do that very well. I too frequently seek the easy way, avoiding unpleasant challenges whenever possible.
The people in this amazing circle are the substance of the story of Relentless Grace.
For ten years following my injury, when I was busy being angry and nasty and defiantly unlovable, people kept showing up. They refused to give up on me. No matter how hard I pushed them away, they stuck with it.
To me, these people were Jesus in t-shirts and blue jeans. And that’s how I see all of you in this incredible circle I’m trying to describe.
You’re taking seriously the call to be Jesus in t-shirts and blue jeans for some of those who need Him most. I am truly honored to know you. Thanks for being part of my circle.
Who do you know who’s in this circle or a similar one? How can you thank them today?
I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. Albert Schweitzer
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