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Step Outside Yourself

   

 I recently learned a lesson about love, generosity, and pure compassion from my twelve year old.

It is a lesson on stepping outside of yourself, having no fear, and living boldly for Jesus. 

The world is not about us. It just isn't.

Step Outside Yourself - Letting Your Child Serve Others in Difficult Situations

It isn't about the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, or the vacations we take. 

It isn't about the homes we live in, the social circles we run in, or the many marks of status we so proudly wear.

It isn't about the educational choices we make, or the church we do (or don't) attend. 

My daughter showed me the world is about LOVE. It is about SERVICE. It is about seeing an immediate need and stepping in, without asking questions, and filling that need.  

It is about STEPPING OUTSIDE OF YOURSELF.

 I was recently explaining to someone that radical service was never on my radar. Yes, I am a Christian. Yes, I love Jesus. Yes, I go to church every Sunday. {I've been a faithful, quiet Lutheran my entire life!}

Yes, I have been living a very SAFE faith.

Until now.  Until I went to Ecuador and saw children in need. Until I delivered lunches to hungry children in my own community.  

Until God impressed upon my heart that I had been going about my life in the wrong way.

(Look at the age range in our group! We had people from 9 all the way up to 80! Serving in a multi age group like this is a wonderful experience.)

Why had I been hesitant to take my children to serve in a soup kitchen in downtown Atlanta? I think I was concerned about their safety, what they would see, what they would hear. 

I worried about their tender hearts. 

All very silly fears, really. 

God has impressed upon me (especially this summer) that my children need to be serving with me. 

He is putting these experiences in my life one after another (in very rapid succession, I might add) to TEACH me something - to MOVE me to action.

Let Your Children Serve

*Disclaimer - I don't take credit for my children. They are GOD'S children and HE has raised them. You will see how my children taught ME about God's love on this particular day. 

Our day at the soup kitchen was better than any homeschool lesson I could have orchestrated. 

My children had the chance to work alongside fellow church members to serve people in need. 

Grant worked with one of his Sunday School teachers to sort fruit donated by Whole Foods.  

 

When the time came for the homeless to enter the church basement, the security guards gave us a few instructions. I asked Grant if he wanted to step out of the fray - I knew it would be a huge mob of people surging into that church basement at one time, but he told me he wanted to stay in the front and greet the guests.

He shook each person's hand as they entered the basement. 

He wasn't apprehensive or shy. He addressed many of the men as "Sir".

He watched with wide eyes as the security guards broke up a fight.  {When I asked him later about this and if he was scared he said, "a little".}

I saw God moving in my son and it nearly brought me to tears. 

We sat with a boy and girl, about Grant's age. He gave them rubber band bracelets from his arm and stayed with me as I spoke with their father. 

He passed out fruit, joking with one guest about his NY Yankees hat, and chatting with another about basketball.

“Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; This is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world. Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.”  ~ Mother Theresa

Our pastor's wife had brought plastic water bottles for the guests to take with them. She took Anna with her and passed out the bottles. 

Anna took a bottle of nail polish and wrote each person's name on the bottle so they would not lose it.

My beautiful Anna stoppped and sat with the homeless. She asked them their names. She touched their shoulders and their hands. 

I watched her show God's love.

I felt that I was witnessing something sacred.

A Most Important Moment

At one point, I looked  into the crowd (Grant and I were bagging fruit and passing it out to guests) and couldn't see Anna.

And then I saw her.

She was bent down, polishing nails. 

She had begun to circulate; asking the women guests if they wanted their nails polished. 

In that moment I was completely overcome.

In that moment I KNEW God was working through Anna. 

This moment was probably one of the most important ones in her 12 year old life. 

I concern myself so much with her education. I try to give her opportunities to travel and discover the world. I ensure she has music lessons and other advantages.

I've had it all wrong.

Please understand: I don't think there is anything wrong with ensuring your children have a good education and many opportunities. But if you do these things and neglect to teach them WHY they have these opportunities and WHO they are supposed to serve and give glory to, then I do believe we've missed the mark.

I thank God for HIS leading us to the soup kitchen because THIS is what she needed.

It is what we all needed.

 

These hands will remain etched on our hearts.

This woman walked out of the basement that day proudly admiring her nails. 

As I looked back, the basement was almost empty, but Anna was working on one last set of nails before the security guards told her it was time to go. 

No Judgment 

On the drive home everyone in our van agreed it had been a GOOD day. It isn't up to us to issue a blanket judgment on people in the state of homelessness. It isn't our place to make it a left or right wing issue. 

Believe me, I understand attitudes on this subject run deep. I was taught to  put my head down and keep walking when we encountered a homeless person. After all, we didn't want to enable them to buy drugs or alcohol, did we? 

I'm learning it's just not my place to make a judgment.

But it IS my place to respond as Jesus would have.

Period.

  

I want to encourage you to serve with your children. Serve BOLDLY. 

If you think God is speaking to you - LISTEN. 

Don't get so caught up in your comfortable life that you forget your brothers and sisters in Christ who are crying out for mercy - often times right in your very own back yard. Don't put it off until a more "convenient" time.

If we live our lives on this earth and don't reflect the love of Jesus what has our life been about? 

 

“Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. In humility value others above yourselves.” Philippians 2:2-3