Friday, March 5, 2010

They Aren't So "Holy and Dearly Loved" By Me

There is nothing more flattering that being "chosen."  The old cliche about the disappointment of being chosen last is not a cliche, but a reality of life, for most of us, at one time or another.  In a lot of ways, being "un-chosen" could have defined me, especially as a kid.  I was not athletic or outgoing.  I often went unnoticed, at home, at church, and at school.  But in a strange reversal, it is not those moments that made the biggest influence on me.  Instead, it was the moments, often separted by years, of being chosen.

Being chosen, in my mind, is receiving a blessing from someone who has nothing to gain by sharing it with you.  When someone pulls you out of the crowd - just because.  I felt chosen at my aunt's wedding when I was 3, when the bride asked me to come take pictures with her; just the two of us.  I felt chosen in Fifth Grade, when my teacher, Mrs. Murrell, took me under her wing and encouraged me to be myself.  I felt chosen in middle school, when a charming, friendly, brilliant girl named Marybeth struck up a friendship with me and helped me figure out how to finally fit in.  As a college student, I was uneasy joining the church choir; it was my first public commitment to church life.  Barb Barnett made room for me in the alto section and offered to store my folder in the slot that had been her late husband's just a few months before.  She put me at ease and became a beloved friend. When my husband came along, he acted like he knew I was the one for him the first time I returned a call.  Thirteen years later, he still makes be feel chosen, every day.

These people, and others as well, didn't wait for an invitation to step into my life and make it better.  The feeling of being chosen that they gave me modeled God's love to me and shaped my attitude about why I'm here and what I do.  No matter how many kids show up on a Wednesday night, it is my goal to give each of them a look in the eyes, a pat on the shoulder, a word of affirmation that makes them, however briefly, feel how chosen they are, too.  But I have been struggling lately, to show compassion, kindness, or patience with some of our kids.  As the city has spread, our church has become more urban, an influx of refugees has brought cross-cultural challenges into our youth and children's programs, and there are still the usual mixture of well and poorly behaved kids to reach. 

My theology and my goals are still the same; each one of those young people is chosen and dearly loved by God and it is my job to help them see that in themselves.  But I have to admit; there are kids in whom the Image of God is pretty buried for me and I have to work really hard to see and act on it.  Sometimes, I think I send kids home feeling overlooked and "un-chosen."  And I have to wonder how buried in me the Image of God is, for them.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Colossians 3:12

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