The admission I’m about to make is not for the purpose of trying to gain either your affirmation or your sympathy (really). It is just something that needs to be written because I think I can often come across as overly confident when I’m talking/writing about what I do at the Mission.
And so, I think it needs to be noted that there are times when I don’t think I’m very good at my job. For those of you reading for the first time, I should probably explain that I work at a homeless shelter. Because I work long hours, and because I have the unique privilege of living on-site, I spend a lot of time here. And because not all of the women who come in have people in their lives to give them solid Godly advice, they often use me as a sounding board for their problems and ideas.
The thing is, though, that a lot of the things that they face on a day-to-day basis are things I have yet to encounter.
For example, I’ve never been married. I’ve never had a boyfriend who cheats on me or spends all of my money on his drug habit. I get along–for the most part–with my parents, and I know that I’d always have a place to go back to if things didn’t work out the way I thought they would.
I haven’t ever known what it is like to be hungry because there is just no food to be had and I have nearly always had a bed to sleep in (the exception is on mission trips, where sleeping on cement floors is an adventure).
Because of that, I have to try harder to understand how people at the Mission think. It’s not easy for me to always recognize the instinct that most of them have in them that causes them to be a little unsure, a little brusque, not always willing to automatically let me into what they’re thinking because they’re afraid of being looked over or looked past again.
I have this sometimes overwhelming desire to try to fix everyone and everything, even though I know there’s no way I can. I’ve mentioned that before, but I think it’s worth writing again because, despite the fact that I know better, it is still easy for me to get swept up in the unrealistic notion of measuring success in terms of results.
When I can’t immediately find the right words to say to someone, or when I get so tired of having the same conversations with the same people over and over, frustration takes over. The results aren’t what I want, and so I feel like I’m failing. Hence my earlier admission of often feeling like I’m not very good at my job.
And so, I’ve had to remind myself that I need to shift my thinking. I want to share this with you because I think it’s a reminder that we all need: If we are following the Lord and desiring to do things His way, then success cannot be measured by standards that we make up ourselves. Neither can it be measured by standards set before us by other people.
For at least two straight years, one of my favorite people in the world beat it into my head that true success has to be measured by faithfulness. She’s a wise woman, that one.
Success measured by faithfulness is such a freeing concept, when you think about it. To be faithful means to press ahead in what God has called you to, even when you want to give up day after day after day. It means sitting and listening even when you know you aren’t going to have a solution to whatever problem is being presented, and trusting that the Holy Spirit will let you know what, if anything, needs to be said. It means that, if you’re earnestly desiring to serve Christ and to show his love and grace to the people around you, the concept of “being good” at something takes on an entirely new and different meaning.
Is being faithful easy? No. Definitely not. But it is absolutely worth it.