“There’s a kind of vanity in thinking you can nurse the world. There’s a kind of vanity in goodness.”
A Ring of Endless Light
A few years ago I met a man named Frank. He was living on the streets of downtown Portland and my friends and I were there to hand out coffee. We got to talking and he started sharing his story – about how he’d gotten caught up in drugs and lost everything, but then got clean and didn’t have the necessary paperwork to (a job) (a place to live) (off the streets). And then he said something that blew my mind.
Frank told me that to be hungry on the streets of Portland, you had to be stupid and blowing your money on sex or drugs. He said he could get six meals every day if he planned it all right.
As we walked back to the car, I wondered if I had helped at all. Perhaps, I concluded, I helped by listening to Frank’s story and validating his feelings. But aside from that, had I made any sort of difference in his life or changed anything? No. Probably not. We cannot expect to be the solution to every problem. Getting Frank a job and a place to live was not up to me. My part in his story was to ask him to tell me his story, and then to listen.
My pastor said that to find your niche, you figure out what your strengths are, what the needs of your community are, and when you have found the place where the two intersect, you have found your niche. It’s not about all of your strengths meeting every need around you; that is impossible and to assume you are All in All, which is God alone.
To believe that we are able to meet every need that crosses our path is not only vain, but is a lack of faith. The beauty in the Body is that the eye cannot say to the hand “I don’t need you,” and the head cannot say to the feet ” I don’t need you.” When I try to make my gifts the answer to every problem that crosses my path, I am saying to my more equipped, more clearly called friends “I don’t need you.”
The subheading of that passage of Scripture is “One Body, Many Parts.”
We are like the Power Rangers, all having our individual personalities, gifts and passions. But the magic is when we all morph into one big giant robot, built up of a bunch of individuals with different gifts. We could not defeat Ivan Ooze on our own, but that was never the idea. Also, it’s been awhile since I watched the Power Rangers. I was always down with the Pink Ranger (big shock).
It’s morphing time!