Thursday, June 19, 2014

Finding our Meaning

When you are a little kid, you don’t get to decide much about your life. At least I know that’s the way of it most of the time in my house with my 3-year-old son. His agenda is directed, for the most part. “It’s dinner time, please come to the table.” “It’s almost time for bed, let’s put on our PJ’s.” “Please hurry, we’re running late.”

As often as I can, I try to give him some decisions, letting him try out his human autonomy in safe ways. We intentionally started this after I read an article on toddler-guided walks. I have always enjoyed neighborhood walks – getting exercise, visiting with neighbors, and enjoying outdoor time. When my son was an infant, this was easy and adult-guided since he was in his stroller. But as he became a toddler, it became clear that his idea of a walk and my idea of a walk were different.

Every so often, we would take a toddler-guided walk. I put aside the frustration and enjoyed seeing the world anew through his eyes. He was eager to pick up sticks and leaves, handing me the best treasures to take home. Once we discovered a little pile of sand at the bottom of a neighbor’s driveway and spent a good 30 minutes playing there.  And I’ve had the delight of sharing some of the fun things I remember from my childhood – blowing dandelion puffs, playing with roly-poly’s, and watching the wind make pinwheels whirl.

It’s a gift to get out of my head, off of my agenda, and engage with the world in the present moment. As human creatures, we tend to live in the past, reliving old glories and rehashing old mistakes, or the future, thinking about dinner or planning for retirement. It’s hard for us to live right here, right now, even though it’s all we really have. That’s part of the wisdom in the prayer Jesus taught his disciples. “Give us each day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3). When we pray, Jesus encourages us to live in this moment, to ask for what we need this day.

When we have time, we take little boy-guided drives. On the way home, my son regularly requests to see the police cars, the fire trucks, or the house that was damaged by fire and is being repaired. On our way between the fire trucks and the house, there was another house under construction. We both enjoyed seeing the work progress and noted when it was finished.

But just yesterday, my son asked, “What did they do to that house?” “They fixed that house so people could live there. A house is meant to be lived in,” I said. Again, being in the moment, explaining this beautiful, broken creation to my child, led me to a little epiphany. We are all meant for something.

In the words of one of our newer hymns: “As a fire is meant for burning with a bright and warming flame, so the church is meant for mission, giving glory to God’s name. Not to preach our creeds or customs, but to build a bridge of care, we join hands across the nations, finding neighbors everywhere” (Ruth Duck, The Faith We Sing #2237).

This past week, I got to join hands with my Jesus-siblings from four other local churches as we built a bridge of care to feed children in our community. Krum First United Methodist Church, Christian Center Assembly of God, First Baptist Church, New Beginnings Fellowship, and Plainview Baptist Church are working together to provide weekly lunch sacks to students served by the free or reduced lunch program in Krum ISD.
I believe it pleases God when we set aside our differences of creed and custom to do good in God’s name. Monday mornings we roll up our sleeves, sorting food and stuffing sacks. Monday evenings we head out into our community, distributing food. Each church is handling different food items as well as providing volunteers. If you are interested in serving, please just get in touch with any of the churches. We’d be glad to have you! And if you know of a child who might be hungry this summer, get in touch with us so we can let you know where they might go to receive.

As sons and daughters of our God, we are meant for something. Connect with a family of faith to go deeper, love more, and find your meaning in this life.

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