“Making the world better for one person makes the world better.“
– Shannan Martin
I walk into the chaos on Wednesdays. People are lined up outside. People are crammed tight inside. The smells, the jostling, the noise. It can be overwhelming.
What am I doing here?
I don’t feel qualified when I go volunteer at Manna House, one of our local gathering spots to feed the hungry. My skills are limited. My default is quiet.
Sometimes it’s hardest to see where we fit in the big things. When we look at the masses, we don’t see individuals. We don’t know who to love. We’re not sure how to love them.
If we can’t do something big, we think we can’t make a difference at all.
But that’s faulty thinking.
Best Is Often Small
“We are all longing to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Sometimes we get so hung up on doing something great, we forget the best thing is often the smallest.”
If you need reminding of how much little things matter, look at Shannan Martin’s stories. In her new book The Ministry of Ordinary Places: Waking Up to God’s Goodness Around You, she shows us how unprepared she was to love the poor, the needy, the displaced.
Yet one person at a time, one occasion at a time, Shannan Martin just did her thing. Small things. Imperfect things. Sometimes things halfway.
And those things matter.
“Every Sunday I’m inclined to believe that making the world a better, brighter place might really be as simple as making lunchtime brighter for one person.”
Just see somebody wherever you go. Just do a small thing where you are. Get uncomfortable; be messy; put your single drop in the bucket.
And miracles will happen.
God’s Bigger Love
“Simply put, we cannot love what we do not know. We cannot know what we do not see. We cannot see anything, really, until we devote ourselves to the lost art of paying attention.”
When we step out to love someone in our imperfect ways, God’s perfect love can step in and take over. If he has bothered to put someone in our path, we can be bothered to show that person simple kindness.
“Our purpose is not so mysterious after all. We get to love and be deeply loved right where we’re planted, by whomever happens to be near.”
When I feel overwhelmed at Manna House, I’ve discovered the best way to regain calm is to look for one person. One soul who looks a little lost. Or who has a question on their lips. Or who is offering a smile to me before I even offer one to them.
And talk to that one person. Just one. One at a time.
Where one person is, an ordinary place, is where ministry happens. It’s where God is made visible. And where people are loved. Including me.
I don’t have to do it well. Just do it.
“I promise there is no such thing as a too-small gesture of genuine kindness. It doesn’t exist. Any sacrifice drawn from a well of compassion is an act of everyday heroism, and I should know.”
* * *
I highly recommend The Ministry of Ordinary Places. It will encourage you to love right where you are.
Do you have uncomfortable moments in big ministries? Who is one person you can love this week? Please share in the comments.
My thanks to Net Galley
for the review copy of this book
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