In case you missed it, on January 2016 I officially began my fight against anxiety. I entitled it the “Year of No Fear”. How is it going? Today I realized that I struggle with the fear of being insignificant. I don’t even notice the struggle sometimes because it has become such a routine part of my existence. How about you? Do you ever feel like your main role as a parent is just that not that important? Does the abundance of information and people on the web make you feel small? Do you tend to compare yourself to people who seem to be making more of a difference?
Last summer God taught me a lesson about trusting that my presence and purpose in the world is significant no matter what He calls me to do– or not do. He taught me not to compare myself to others who seem more important–because they are not. And he reminded me that I was “made for good works that God created specifically for (me) to do (Ephesians 2:10). God taught me these lessons in an unusual and completely unexpected way. Read on to get the story.
At Bible camp last summer, I was putting together the final version of a lesson I was to deliver for the kids and adults that evening. A paperclip held my notes together but I went on a search for a stapler to keep them more securely connected. This sounds easy, but at camp you never know where you might find basic office supplies because camp packing lists are dominated with more pertinent things like a sleeping bag, flashlight, and extra socks. But I asked around– how hard could this be?
Within 20 minutes, I found a heavy-duty stapler useful for pounding things into the wood cabins. Clearly this was not ideal for my needs, but I tried it on my notes anyway. Of course they quickly fell out of the huge staple. After another 20 minutes, I found a smaller stapler but it had no staples. Undeterred, I went on the hunt for small staples to match. I searched the obvious places first– the craft area, the camp office and the child care team– and I asked everyone else I ran into along the way. No luck. Stapling my papers was not absolutely necessary, of course, but at this point it had become a quest that I was determined to complete.
As I continued the search for staples, I noted it was almost time for me to speak. I kept looking anyway– partly because it kept my mind distracted from pre-speaking jitters. (Those jitters stemmed from an old “insignificance” script running through my head that said my presentation was sub-par and someone else could do a better job).
As a last resort, I went back to the craft area and looked again in one of the supply tubs. After looking in every corner, I found a box that held three small staples. Hurray! I tried one staple but it was bent and it jammed inside the stapler when I tried to use it. The second staple was rusted and jammed as well. I looked at that third little staple (also rusted) and said a little prayer asking God to help it do it’s job. It worked! My notes were securely fastened together– and with just 5 minutes to spare. I smiled with satisfaction and, more importantly, with awe, because God spoke to me through that tiny rusted staple. He reminded me that in my extensive search for a staple that this was the one that He provided. No others worked. The big stapler with it’s new staples was not right. There were no new and shiny staples of the right size to help me. There was just the humble rusted one. It was significant because it met my needs perfectly. It did the job for which it was designed.
In that moment, I laughed aloud and almost cried. God is so good. He reminded me not to dwell on how another person might give a presentation because I was the one sent for this job. He prompted me to tell the campers and staff that their small actions are significant because God is the author of turning common people, events and things into precious provisions (think loaves and fish- Matthew 14:15-20). It doesn’t matter if you feel rusted, passed over, or thrown into the bottom of a box. Who you are and what you do is important to somebody– so do the job you can. You could be the humble provision that is perfect for your child, a co-worker, a friend or a complete stranger. In what situation or for what person are you the one?