“Not everyone can do great things. But everyone can do small things with great love.”
Today, I took my kids (all 6 of them, plus a friend) to a shelter for women and their children. We went to volunteer in the childcare room, but ironically, I brought more children with me than there were for us to watch. We were greeted at the front desk with a cordial, “How many kids do you have with you today?” (Sometimes I just take a couple).
“Seven,” I answered.
“Does the Program Director (who’s on vacation) realize that you bring all of them?”
I’m used to those looks, even comments in the grocery store or at a restaurant
(“Are these ALL your children?!?”).
But, frankly- this time it caught me off-guard!
I (as sweetly as I could muster) answered, “Yes, she is aware that they all come.”
We all squeezed into the elevator and as they squabbled about who would push the button, for a moment I questioned, “Why are we doing this?… Are we just bringing more chaos? Am I really helping anyone?” Because, to be honest…my kids weren’t too crazy about waking up on a sleep-in summer morning, and it seemed quite apparent that ALL of our help wasn’t exactly needed….
About fifteen minutes later, I was reminded of why we go. Why I bother with the hustling and bustling around, when we could be at home watching cartoons and eating cinnamon rolls…
The sounds of little feet dragging to the mini-van and little voices whining, “How long do we have to staayy?” were all muted as I watched this great wall that stands between two very different worlds come crashing down.
A couple of twelve-year-old boys opened the lemonade stand for the toddlers to come and play, and a nine-year-old rocked a colicky baby. Two Olivia’s (one 15, one 4) bonded over sunglasses and styling hair. They read books, watched Elmo, and ate together. When it was time to go, the inevitable questions emerged:
“Can we take them home with us?” and “Can I go with you?”..
On our way home, I ran into the grocery store. As I was walking those cold aisles, the pictures of these colliding worlds replayed in my mind. My children, week by week, are learning to appreciate how incredibly much we have. They are also learning to love whoever God puts in front of them.
it occurred to me that it doesn’t really matter how “great” our acts of service are. We don’t have to come up with some grandiose and creative endeavor that will change the world. I don’t have to find the perfect “fit” for all of my kids in order for us to serve together.
We can just go.
We can do something small. Like spend our morning playing with some children who simply enjoy seeing new faces. We can take them a snack…read them some books…open a pretend lemonade stand. And maybe their lives will not be eternally impacted by our few hours this morning.
But maybe it’s not about our few hours changing the world…
maybe it’s about our few hours changing us.
I think it’s quite possible that the very ones we think we are helping, are actually the ones teaching us.
Maybe when we do small things, with great love, we discover those are really the greatest things.