Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Irrelevance

It was suggested that maybe I´m here just for ME - God may be transforming me for the sole purpose of transforming me.
I don´t like this thought. It sounds selfish, self-absorbed, and even a bit lazy.

Maybe what I thought I came to do in Bolivia is irrelevant.

I´m really wrestling with this concept. Yesterday I spent 2 hours of solitude in my room, wrestling with this concept. I read ¨In The Name of Jesus,¨ where Henri Nouwen identifies with my ponderings.
In his transition from sophisticated scholar and priest to his time in the L´Arche Community with the disabled, Henri writes about the temptation to be relevant. ¨Not being able to use any of the skills that had proved so practical in the past was a real source of anxiety. I was suddenly faced with my naked self, open for affirmations and rejections, hugs and punches, smiles and tears, all dependent on how I was perceived at the moment.¨
As I walked up the steps at Missionaries of Charity today, I resonated with Henri´s thoughts... these people don´t care that I have a college degree, that I took an Abnormal Psychology class and learned about many of their disabilities, that I´m from the USA... They just need me to sweep up the bread crumbs under their bed and change their wet sheets. They just want to motion that I´m tall. They just want to dance. They just want me to sit in the sun with them. They just want to kiss my hand. They just want me to kiss their cheek. ¨These broken, wounded, and completely unpretentious people forced me to let go of my relevant self--the self that can do things, show things, prove things, build things --and forced me to reclaim that unadorned self in which I m completely vulnerable, open to receive and give love regardless of any accomplishments.¨

Henri is convinced the Christian leader of the future ¨is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.¨ It´s a temptation to be relevant, just like Jesus was tempted to be relevant by turning stones into bread at Satan´s request.
¨The leader of the future will be the one who dares to claim his irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows her to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success and to bring the light of Jesus there.¨

I recently expressed my desire to exercise more creativity in the work I´m doing here...to take on more ownership with this ministry. I feel keenly aware with what I´ve been gifted with, and I`m willing to be used. But, in the confines of my strict schedule at Missionaries of Charity and serving lunch at the Casa, I feel like it´s limited. That´s when the subject of irrelevance emerged. Does it matter that I have skills as a facilitator? That I have a degree? That I´ve been affirmed in my public-speaking ability? That I´m creative? Maybe not.

It seems like a paradox to allow myself irrelevance and self-confidence.

I don´t feel like I`m searching for life-changing results or a revival among the women at La Casa, yet I do feel like I´m searching where I fit. I want to be sure of my time here, sure of what I have to offer, and then sure of how I´m offering it.

In the same section as irrelevance, Henri writes: ¨The Christian leader of the future is the one who truly knows the heart of God as it has become flesh. Knowing God´s heart means consistently, radically, and very concretely to announce and reveal that God is love and only love, and that every time fear, isolation, or despair begin to invade the human soul this is not something that comes from God.¨

My thought processes regarding irrevelance point me even more to seeking Truth. When we are seeking Christ wholeheartedly, the Spirit will lead us. I need to trust that as I question my role here (beyond being a smiling face to the people I meet), the Spirit will guide me in how I spend my time and will inevitably lead me where I need to be.

How do I embrace the concept of irrelevance?
What if my presence here really is for something more than my life transformation?
How will I know?
Your thoughts matter to me....

3 comments:

ryanmortinson said...

my thoughts keep coming back to the idea... 'you must lose your life to find it.' maybe losing your life involves stepping away from your successes and skills to simply perform acts of compassion and love in obedience to the greatest commandments. Love God. Love people. (that sounded very 'preachy' and easy... i believe it to be true... but it's definitely not easy)

there for a purpose?... or there to change you?... why does it have to be one or the other? seems to me that God is wise and powerful enough to accomplish two things at once. maybe even three... :)

you will know, when you find yourself crying and laughing. you will know, when your face shines like moses'. you will know, when you read in the Bible to help widows and orphans and you think in your heart without any pride.. "i did that." you will know, one day in heaven... when God says "well done, good and faithful servant."

Alisa said...

Wow! I definitely need to print this journal entry and read it again several times. Thank you for putting all those thoughts down. Sounds like you are reading a tough but good book. I agree with Ryan, in one way the truth is very simple, but at the same time, it's so insanely difficult.

Thanks for the thought provoking entry!

Alisa :-) said...

I had another thought. You mentioned self-confidence. My whole life I have been told that I need to improve in that area. It seems to be all that you hear throughout school and self-improvement gurus.

But recently I have been hearing that self-confidence and self-esteem are pride. We should have Christ-esteem instead. I think about that a lot, b/c I want to figure out how to really apply it. The best I can come up w/ so far is to know Him better. Know Him so well that it so permiates my life that there isn't room for self anything. Boy do I have a long way to go...