I should have been cooking dinner.
I should have been peeling potatoes and par-boiling broccoli. Should have been grating cheese and baking bread.
But I was online, trying to catch up with somebody who does the same kind of work I do.
I don’t claim to visit this person online often, simply because every time I do, I leave feeling less than. Inadequate. Like a loser.
It’s not her fault. It’s mine.
She’s a delightful sister who does work similar to mine… but the response she gets is so much bigger, greater, louder. It’s big and grand, and people love it.
It’s not her fault. It’s mine that it makes me feel worthless.
To avoid the temptation to inadequacy I usually just don’t go there.
But I’ve been doing much better with identity and insecurity, getting stronger in the Lord and letting Him love me to wholeness. I genuinely wanted to know how this person was doing and felt I was ready to be okay with the response.
A quick catch-up would have been fine. As I read, I was encouraged.
But then I started digging deeper. Like David seeing Bathsheeba on the rooftop and not looking away. I didn’t move on when I should have. The more I looked and read, the more temptation I started to experience.
Comparison set in.
Then the conviction that something must be wrong with me burrowed its way into my heart. That old lie wormed its way in and tried to convince me it was true, same as always.
It left a wake of soul devastation.
A chewed up swiss-cheese kind of heart had I.
The achy weight of insignificance filled me. What a bleeding, broken, bruised spirit I had in a matter of minutes. I had to get out of there quick!
I took it to the Lord. “God,” I cried out, bleeding, desperate for grace to mend the holes, “I need you to love me back to wholeness again. Because I’m taking a beating right now. I need to know that my identity isn’t in what kind of success I have. Or how responsive others are to my labor. “
He did the most amazing thing, then.
He reminded me of the sweeping lady.
See, I had been walking to volunteer at the school the day before.
Every Tuesday, I make the walk, down ShuangFu Road and past the underpass. Cross the street then turn left down Second Ring Road. On a lonely stretch of the walk, I happened upon a woman, leaning against a wall with her broom beside her. She was clothed in the ugly orange that makes her stand out to traffic. Her job is to sweep debris from the streets.
It was about ten o’clock in the morning and she was having a snack. When I saw her, my first thoughts were, “Wow, she’s hungry because she’s probably been out here since 6 this morning. And she does this every day, seven days a week. She works so hard and she has probably never been thanked for her work in her entire life. I really appreciate people who work hard to keep things clean.”
At that point, the Spirit prompted me. “So why don’t you tell her?”
It was a still small voice. I could have very easily dismissed it.
And by that point, I was twenty paces past the woman.
For a minute I thought, “That’s crazy. I’m a random person on the street and what difference does it make anyway? I’m a nobody, on my way somewhere, and this is awkward.”
But I knew I’m chosen by God to be light. What a privilege to be a ray of hope to another.
So I stopped.
Turned around. Walked back the thirty or forty paces to the street sweeper. “Auntie, thank you so much for keeping things clean. You get up and work hard every day and your work makes things so much nicer for us to enjoy. Thank you.”
I wanted to say something meaningful but didn’t know what. So I just said, “God bless you.”
To which she started to laugh.
Sometimes people laugh in this culture because they are embarrassed. The foreigner makes them feel awkward and they laugh to cover it up.
But as I watched this lady, I saw that she was laughing for joy.
It was a laugh of hope. I could see it spread across her face like a new dawn. I could see it sparkle life in her eye. I could hear it in her voice, see it in the nod of her head. So I said it again, “God bless you.”
I turned and left then, the woman still laughing joyously behind me.
I walked to the school, volunteered in the library, rode the bus home with the kids, cooked dinner, gave baths, checked homework. Didn’t think anything more of the street sweeper lady.
But as I sat at my computer asking God to love me back to health after being chewed into swiss cheese, He reminded me of that lady.
“No one saw that, my child. But I did.”
“That little act didn’t register on anyone’s success meter…but it did on Mine.”
“You don’t need others to tell you you’re significant. You don’t need numbers to define how successful you are. You don’t need opinions to determine whether or not you’re making a difference. You ARE the difference.”
“My girl, you need to understand something about Me. I am a YES God. When I say no to a request, it is because I have said yes to a hundred better things. (II Corinthians 1:20)
If you ask for a fish, I will give you a fish. If you ask for a rock, I will not give you a rock. (Matthew 7:9)
I will give you MUCH MORE. If you don’t see the results you’d hoped for, it is not because I am saying no to you. It’s because I’m giving you a hundred other yeses.” (Luke 11:13)
Then He showed me some of the yeses:
“YES, to a soft heart that concerns itself with others.
YES, to an intimacy with Me that hears My voice when I speak softly.
YES, to being entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation.
YES, to doing the small tasks that no one will ever notice but Me.
YES, to smallness and meekness and utter dependence upon Me.
YES, to reflecting the glory of Christ.
YES, to the lowliness that allows ME to be the greatest thing about you.
My children can be envious of others because they think I’ve said “no” to them. Those who deeply know Me understand I’ve actually said yes to MUCH MORE.
So, no my child, I didn’t give you a pin worthy picture. I didn’t give you a story to rock and wow the internet with. I didn’t give you amazing numbers to send back home to your supporters. My child, I gave you something much greater.
I gave you evidence of Me in your life.
Ears to hear Me.
Compassion to take note of others.
Words to speak as My mouthpiece.
Seeds and fruit that will last for eternity.
I am a Yes God. When you feel the length of “No” in your soul, remember that I give “much more.” Don’t ever forget it.”
I retreated to my bedroom then. Dinner could wait. I pondered the yeses from my God. I gave them weight, because a quick glance over will never do… and as I did, my soul riddled by insecurities found its healing. The heart holes were filled. The weight of insignificance lifted and I saw my Yes God.
It was near seven o’clock when we finally had dinner…. But this momma served it with softness because she’d been loved into wholeness.