Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A worthwhile investment

Disclaimer: I've hesitated in hitting "post" on this one because I don't want anyone to think I may be referring to them in the following self-pity wallow. Chances are good that if you're reading my blog, I'm not talking about you at all. Please know that.

I love to invest in people. Time, finances, skills (the few I have) . . . it is one of my greatest pleasures in life to spend those things on other people, often without their knowing. I take joy in it. If I were guessing at my love languages (having not read the book in more than a decade, though apparently I can take a 30 second quiz), I'd say my primary two are acts of service and gifts. In doing things for other people - be it babysitting, cooking, writing a note, running an errand - I hope I am communicating to them that a.) they are important to me and b.) I have time in my life for them. (I could write a whole other post on the tension that arises between my desire to serve other people and the need to be present for my own family and serve them first and foremost. I'll save that post for another day.)

I have long been frustrated . . . no, that's not the right word . . . saddened is better, by what I perceive as a lack of return on my investment. Don't get me wrong; I realize how selfish that sentence sounds. I don't perform acts of service for others so that they will be reciprocated . . . that would be just the opposite of the motive I truly have. But, I am wired in such a way that longs for deep and meaningful friendships. (For the record, I am aware that I have 6 of the best and closest friends a person could ever dream of, but sadly 5 of them live far, far away, which doesn't help me much today, does it?)

The human, self-pitying part of me longs to know what more I can do. What is the point of caring so much and getting what feels like so little in return? This morning I feel like God revealed at least part of the answer to me. Of course, I've always known the textbook answers . . . Do everything as unto the Lord, seek not the applause of men, your reward is in heaven, etc, etc. But, this morning as I was talking to my kids about why we were putting together shoe boxes for Samaritan's Purse, it hit me . . . even if no one else ever knows (and I hope they don't) about all the time and effort I've put into the people around me . . . not only does God know, but so do my children. They see me day in and day out investing in the lives of the people around me. They know that I care and that the tangible evidence of that is in doing, giving, loving . . . often without obvious return. How valuable a lesson this is for them, I cannot even guess. It is my hope that they will grow up doing for others, serving, as naturally as breathing.

And, if that is the return I get on my investment, I will be a blessed woman indeed.


Tonya said...

What a truly inspiring post. We, too, are currently working on our shoeboxes. We were fortunate enough to have a representative from OCC come to our church and show a video of children in Peru receiving their boxes. What an absolutely humbling experience. It made me weep - and not so much because of the conditions in which those children live, but because we can't even come close to understanding the level of JOY they have. We cannot even begin to understand it because we are so privileged and have been conditioned to find our joy in the things we possess rather than in the One who created all things. Thank you for the reminder of what truly matters.

Anonymous said...

On behalf of Franklin Graham, thank you for participating in Operation Christmas Child. Your investment in the lives of children, both your own and those around the world, may not always be visible but it will pay dividends in the future. Thank you for all that you do as a part of the OCC ministry and as a mom!

Darren Mullenix
Donor Ministries
Samaritan's Purse
(father of 2) :-)