It was all my stuff.
All the excess. I looked around at our house and our cluttered cars and started to realize we had way.too.much.stuff. It was stressing me out. All our needs were met. Every single one of them. In abundance. So much abundance that it was draining me.
And it was all the ways I was living like the world. Pursuing the American dream. Chasing after the nicer car, the bigger house, the most athletic kids, the latest trend. It’s perfectly acceptable in the church because we are all doing it.
But I knew that is not what I was called to do.
As a Christian, I knew I was called to live differently. So I began to ask the Lord to shift my gaze. To guide me to the places where He was radically at work. I wanted to see Him doing things only He can do. Meeting needs only He can meet.
So I had to get myself around the needy.
I showed up at a PTO meeting one day totally depressed. Something in my soul was stirring, though I didn’t know what it was. Whatever it was, it got me up out of a Sunday afternoon nap and I found myself sitting among women who had ideas and plans and impact. I kept wondering what in the world I was doing there. I didn’t feel like I belonged. And I certainly didn’t feel like I had anything to offer.
Until someone said they were putting together a clothes closet at the school. They were sending food bags home with hungry kids on the weekends and wanted to give them more. They wanted to create a closet with clothing and hygiene products and extra snacks and school supplies. Whatever it was in my soul that got me to the meeting started stirring. My hand went up when they asked for someone to be the representative for the clothes closet. I was even a little bit excited.
So I started serving at the school once a week or so. Whenever there was a need or a donation I went up to help. Oddly, I found a lot of peace there.
I found joy I hadn’t had in a long time.
And I found His presence.
One day I walked in the PTO room and a wave of peace rushed over me. I just whispered out loud “You’re here, aren’t you God?”
He said, “I Am.”
I was overwhelmed.
My experience in the clothes closet also confirmed what I was learning about the excess. At Christmas, we decided to find sponsors for each student to have gifts. One girl, when asked “What do you wish for?” answered “A pillow.”
I had ten pillows on my master bed. Decorative pillows. Pillows I really didn’t even need. They rarely actually even made it onto my master bed. Only when company was coming.
This girl just wanted one. One pillow.
My eyes were now wide open my own excess… and to the great need around me.
How had I not known about this before??
I had been pursuing the things of the world for satisfaction. Not the things of God. The needs had been there all along, I just hadn’t taken the time to consider that I was called to meet them.
I was learning to get my hands dirty.
I was learning what it looked like to adore Him.
And when I did, He was completely overwhelming me with His presence.
I met Roxie last Thanksgiving when we were delivering food boxes. Our kids that we serve through the clothes closet were going to be out of school for the holiday and needed extra food to get through those days where they wouldn’t get breakfast and lunch at school. I know God brought me to Roxie’s house that day to find her. And to lavish His love on her. I found Roxie lonely. And cold. But her spirit, man, her spirit was strong. She had been praying for food, for warmth, for a friend. God was radically at work on Roxie’s behalf. I got to join Him.
I met a young girl who wanted white pants. You won’t be surprised to know there was only one pair of white pants in the stack of donated jeans and they were her size. God wanted to provide them for her. I got to join Him.
And then there was the time we ran out of shampoo and conditioner and someone came to the back door with bags full of it.
God was working miracles. I got to witness it. And join Him in it.
Two years ago right before Halloween, our middle son Ty came home and was concerned about a girl in his class who he knew would not have a costume for the costume parade. He begged me to go get her one. Now, Ty knows I can’t say no to a request like that, but I really considered it that time. We didn’t have a lot of extra money that month and she wanted to be a witch. I wanted her to be pretty much anything but that. Nevertheless, the last night before the costume parade I found myself running to Target looking for a witch costume. Because I love Ty. I’ll never forget it because I was so tired. I knew I couldn’t let him down… much less this little girl who needed to be loved.
Love looks so weird sometimes.
Believe it or not, I walked right up to a glittery witch costume. It wasn’t half as dark and creepy as I was afraid it would be. And it was in her size. And y’all know that’s a miracle because you know what Target looks like a few days before Halloween. So I bought it. Ty took it to her. We didn’t talk much about it after that. I knew she was a troubled kid and stayed in and out of suspension. Ty kept me posted through 5th grade. He’s in 6th now and I hadn’t heard anything about her this year. But the other day I got a text that a new student was coming to the clothes closet. She needed “a coat and clothes.” Yes, they show up at our privileged school like that. I was late to the closet because I had to pick up our youngest son but when I arrived, this “new girl” was there. And she was grouchy. My friend who was trying to help her said, “She wants nothing to do with me. She hates being in here.” That’s when she turned around and looked at me. I instantly recognized her. She was the girl I bought the witch costume for.
I knew her name.
I held my arms out wide and I said her name loud.
She smiled so big her eyes disappeared.
She let me hug her. She knew who I was.
And then she let me help her find some warm clothes. Some snacks. And we talked about what her favorite coat might look like if she got to choose. We got her the coat she asked for the very next day.
I stood there with all this going on around me trying not to weep.
Because the God who loves me and wants me to adore Him set this whole thing up. He gave me the heart to go get that girl a costume two years ago so that she would trust me enough to let me love her last week. She needs love. We all do.
I found Him using my “not much money at the end of the month run to Target” to show me how He provides for the needs with my excess.