Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Standing Out In a Just-Get-By World

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people. Remember that the Lord will give you as a reward what he has kept for his people. For Christ is the real Master you serve.
~ Colossians 3:23-24, GNT ~

Imagine you were the lucky winner of a national contest to travel as a personal assistant to a famous celebrity you admire. Sounds fun, doesn't it?  Although you would likely be nervous, you would want to do your very best, wouldn't you?  You would not want to make a fool of yourself or complain.  You would want to leave a notable, lasting good impression on this celebrity.  You might even try to go above and beyond what that super star asked of you as their assistant.

Now imagine instead of serving that celebrity, you were actually the traveling personal assistant to G.O.D!  That would increase the diligence of your work to a whole new level!

That type of "going the extra mile" seems to be all but vacant when it comes to the public care of our children.  While there are excellent, caring people in every profession, I hear far too often about those who do just the bare minimum to meet the requirements of the law and their jobs.  It can make what sounds like a wonderful concept a complete nightmare as parents try to advance protocols to give their children the very best opportunities to do well in spite of their circumstances.

No parent of a child with special needs who has been doing this for a few years has to think too long to have people come to mind that fit that profile of just doing the bare minimum.  It might be the school social worker who does the bare minimum to comply with special education law.  It might be the medical specialist who doesn't take a parent seriously, doing the least he can to address concerns.  It might be a bureaucrat who exerts the tiniest effort required to avail our child of much-needed program services like respite or work experiences.

It can be SO frustrating to deal with people who appear to be lazy, uncaring, or defeated in doing their jobs!

Even so, THIS is where we can stand out from the world.  As Christ's ambassadors, we can reflect His glory in the places we live and work every day.  When people see us looking less like that lazy or defeated worker, they take notice.  When people see every reason in our circumstances for us to lose our cool  or be apathetic, yet we are engaged, pleasant, and giving life our best shot, we simply look different.

Now, given the weight of all we deal with each and every day as parents of complex kids, this can sound like a ridiculously idealistic notion.  When our cute child with a disability suddenly becomes manipulative, it's hard to not look like the world.  When we never get a break from our child on the autism spectrum, it's easy to feel defeated.  When we are being pushed and pulled in so many directions with everyone holding up a scorecard assessing how they thing we're doing as a parent, it's natural to want to give up.

Yet, here is the key to looking different in these situations that God gives us from His word: 
Remember this, my dear friends! Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry.
~ James 1:19, GNT ~

Marinate on that verse a bit, my friends.  If we are going to listen, it requires us to slow down a bit, actually taking the time to truly listen to the needs of our children, spouses, and the workers that intersect with our lives.  Being slow to speak requires us also to be measured in our response, taking time to consider our words before getting defensive, self-righteous, or dismissive.  And having a quick temper is usually an indicator that we're pushing the limits of stress in some other area of our lives, in need of removing something from our incredibly full plates.  Yes, obeying God's commands in this verse require us to adjust our priorities, not trying to do it all, but trying to do what we do well.

In the final analysis, we may not be able to change the apathy and inertia of others, but we can elevate the behavior of everyone around us by serving our loved ones and community just like we would serve that famous celebrity on the road or God himself.  As the culture becomes darker and nastier by the minute, we can pour into the people in our own circles the knowledge that they are valued and loved beyond all measure.  That can't help but spill out to all those we come into contact with as we live life in holy, joyful confidence.

PRAY:  Holy Spirit, tap me on the shoulder to remind me that every pair of socks I fold, every phone call to doctors I make is a sacred act when I do as if I am doing it for YOU.  Transform me so that I look less like the world and more like Your glory in the darkness.

~ Barb Dittrich

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