Some years ago we partnered with an organization that held a once-a-month outreach with the homeless in Washington, D.C. We helped serve food and hand out shoes, clothes and whatever other supplies were donated by churches and individuals.
One snapshot that stays with me to this day was when K, one of our youth, exchanged hoodies with one of the homeless men. It was some time ago, so the details are hazy, but I think they were talking about a recent accident K was in and how she was scared to cross the road after and how the man had a neon green hoodie on and how he gave it to her. I think he said something about how wearing it would make her stand out, and drivers would be able to see her clearly. K in turn gave him her hoodie.
I thought that was sweet. Until K actually put it on. I cringed inside. Seriously, why?
Monday nights are a struggle for me. See, Tuesday is when I volunteer at the pregnancy center. So naturally, Monday nights are when I come under attack. Without fail, thoughts about not showing up the next day fill my mind at different intervals. Excuses become a dime a dozen, and I suddenly feel like there are more pressing matters I have to take care of.
So far, I haven’t given in. Why? I’m not sure.
Another young lady from our old youth group has chosen to really live a life of service. Now I know I always say I want to serve, but S really does it. After graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., she signed on to work with people with special needs. She also flies to Haiti as a missionary, her heart set on serving God for the rest of the future. She said something to me once that I won’t ever forget: “There is another life, Ate (big sister).”
So I saw S a few weeks ago. And she prayed for me. It was humbling to bow my head beside her and let her pray. I was also overcome with emotion. She says God has used me so much in her life. Whether that is true or not remains debatable, but I have no doubt the tables have been turned.
What is it you want to be known for? I mean, after you pass away, what do you want people to whisper about you? Not what they’d say at your memorial service, everyone knows the dead turn into saints during the eulogy. I mean, what do you want people to talk about after they’re away from those you left behind, within the circles they feel most comfortable with?
Just last week I heard someone was spreading stories about me. Oh, it’s a dead horse and I can easily squash the story if I choose to. But I won’t. Why? Because other people will get hurt. And I have a sneaking suspicion my word is more important to me than what people choose to believe about me.
So I’m assuming there will be stories told about me when I’m gone that won’t be flattering, that will be made up, or added on to certain events on my timeline. And I know there will be sad ones about how I failed or didn’t step up to the plate.
But apart from the stories people perpetuate and beyond the failures I don’t attempt to hide, I want to be known for having lived a life that really did match to what I insisted I believed. In a nutshell, I believe in Jesus. So I want to be like Jesus. So I choose to live like Jesus, even though I fumble and drop the ball all the time.
This is why K’s act of putting on that hoodie remains with me. Because I didn’t like it. Yet I know it was, in the most tangible way possible, a picture of how K saw the homeless man as an equal and of how she appreciated his gift. And it makes me think of Jesus seeking out my company. Filth and all.
And that’s why I keep waking up early on Tuesday, making sure I’m at the pregnancy center on time. And why I keep trying to see past my own prejudices and understanding that all Jesus calls me to do is to love.
And that’s why I’m on Instagram. Because I love S’s photo updates, and she has become a constant reminder of what a life yielded to God looks like.