A piece of trash sat on the floor under a chair. He probably couldn’t see it, but I could and it was distracting me.
“Can you pick that up for me please?” I asked?
“I didn’t put it there,” the student replied.
I knew the answer was coming before I asked it because probably 75% of the times I asked if a kid could throw something away, hang something up or get something off the floor, I was given the same answer. In essence, that is not my fault and it is not my problem. And every time I said the same thing.
“I didn’t ask who put it there. I asked if you could pick it up.”
And with a deep sigh, the student moves reaches under the chair to get it.
Why didn’t I try to find the responsible party and make them fix the mess they made? After all, we all have to be accountable for our things and respectful of our surroundings. What lesson does that teach the child who threw their trash on the floor and left it? This is their problem and they should have to deal with it like a decent human being who doesn’t throw trash on the floor!
Sure. I get that. I really do. We have to make it clear that those who make messes are trained to not make them in the future. We need classroom rules. We need boundaries.
But we also need each other. We also need to be willing to care for our surroundings beyond just picking up our own junk. We also need to be willing to reach out and see a mess we didn’t create and help, because this is our classroom and these are our classmates.
This is some incredible confession here and I ask for your mercy as I speak it. In the past few months, and forgive my lack of being specific here, I had something cross my mind occasionally when I looked at a certain situation I saw near me. I would shove it out of my head because it was very obviously not what I was intending to do. I thought, that is just an idealistic daydream solution to this situation. One friend made a joking suggestion to the solution that was dangerously near what had crossed my mind. A week later a friend from a different area in my life made the same joke. And then asked if maybe it wasn’t such a joke after all. Peculiar.
A few weeks ago, it became clear that there needed to be a solution. Someone needed to pick something up. Someone needed to help out. And here came the question…
“Sarah, will you pick that up?”
“No. I didn’t put it there.” I replied.
“That’s not what I asked. Will you lean over and reach out your hand and pick that up?”
“No. I don’t want to do that.”
I could feel the raised eyebrow so I avoided the eyes.
“And what lesson does it teach others?” I began to prepare my defense, “And what are people going to think if I go around picking up other people’s things? And to be frank, I am tired and I don’t want to go through the hassle of bending over and then going all the way to the trashcan and all the way back to my desk.”
“You know who you should talk to about this? Kermit”
“Well, I don’t want to do that either.” I replied, because let’s be honest, Kermit is good and Kermit is bold and Kermit puts others first and because I already know what Kermit would say.
So I had the conversation with Kermit. Kermit’s first point….in essence…was that if we look at the things we’re asked to do as messes, as problems, we’re a billion miles away from who we are supposed to be as Christians. It was not language I had placed on the situation, but it was the attitude of my heart a the root of my fear. He talked to me for a while and said things I already knew and already believed and already agreed with and then he ended it with this. It would be wrong for us to not do something and let something bad happen when we can do something about it.
And so we walked out of that conversation with me willing to help, but with a lot of limitations placed on what I was going to feel good about. The thing was, the limitations I placed did not make me feel good. they made me feel exactly the opposite.
“Ok, I will do what you’ve asked….this much.”
“You know that’s not what I am asking.”
I only struggle this hard with something when on the other side of obedience to the task is unimaginable blessing. I only struggle like this when to refuse would be to lose. I knew she was right. In that conversation, my heart stopped dragging its feet. My mind knew before what the right thing to do was. My heart wanted to do the right thing. But my attitude, was being a real pain in the butt.
A few days in I was working through these thoughts with a friend. I was busying myself trying to find a solution within my parameters. I am busying myself to find something that is easier on me. I am avoiding conversations I should have and having conversations that I know won’t lead to a fix. I want a good, healthy, whole solution. Let me be clear about that. I wanted good. I wanted healthy. And I wanted whole. I was not looking to solve the problem halfheartedly just to make it easier on me.
And that friend spoke straight with me. She got real and without directly quoting her, she gave this message….Why you, Sarah? Because you are the person for this, and you know it. Because He asked you to do it, and you know it. Because we heard Him ask you and you aren’t going to wriggle your way out of it. And honestly, the reasons you are giving are crap reasons and sound like things you should probably be working on being better at anyway. So go…do…it.
By Thursday I had been able to process all that has happened over the past few weeks. I was able to see the path that had led people to perfect positions and my own journey to the first steps of blessing.
In the rearview mirror of reflection this is what I read.
God does not ask us to sit at our desks with our feet up. God has tasks for us. This is a hands on class and we are all responsible and sometimes, maybe even often, He is going to ask us to do things we don’t want to do or things that are inconvenient. If you are being asked to do something and your only argument is your own comfort and convenience, you might need to ask just whom exactly do you serve?
There plain as day in that rearview mirror I read this….
Either my God is inconvenient or my god is convenience.
He never asked us to be comfortable for our glory. He blessed us with comfort to return that blessing back to Him.
Don’t believe me? Go read Philippians 2:6-15. I was going to copy and paste it here, but I thought….that seems a little convenient. Here is this morning’s challenge on the topic. Can you be inconvenienced enough to open your Bible and read 9 verses?