Compassion Fatigue: He has not called me David
God called David of the Bible to see an injustice. To take up his sling and stones and stand face to face with a giant. God called David to actions that put him in the spotlight; to the life of a hero.
God has been weaving a truth in my heart for awhile, and that is this:
He has not called me David.
My personality is a passionate and compassionate one so I am never at peace unless I am working for a cause. I feel fortunate that community service was so well modeled for me growing up that it was natural to mimic. One of my favorite activities each year was when my parents would take our family to the Oregon beach cleanup. I loved it so much in fact, that when the exciting weekend of saving our oceans from styrofoam cups and Cheetos bags were over I would share my newfound passion with my friends at school. Share is generous; coerce is probably a more accurate way to describe my methods of gathering classmates (bless their hearts) to spend their precious recess hour picking up broken beer bottles and takeout containers along the rural roadside of our playground. Side note: This was before schools had to be completely fenced, and to their credit our teachers did give a brief warning to our little tribe of environmentally righteous 4th graders not to cut ourselves on the glass or get close enough to the road to get hit or kidnapped. It was a different time. Anyway.
That urgency to see injustice righted has only grown with a deeper understanding of this world’s wrongs. And as I saw then as well as now, I am not alone in that experience.
I hear issue after issue where someone says “we can no longer be silent about…”, and immediately feel guilt that I know nothing about the topic they’re speaking on. I feel compelled to have a solution and fight for it until something has changed. Whether it’s refugees in need of a home, racism that's dividing our country, gun violence in schools, domestic abuse, and on and on and on. I feel myself being caught up in every debate and every passionate call to arms; every call to be involved enough in a cause that “together, we might change the world!”, as many claim is the solution. For so long I’ve been so passionate about everything, so impatient to see things changed. What started as a child eagerly meeting a need has turned to a needy young woman craving to be the recognized catalyst for a better world.
And that’s when it hits me again:
He has not called me David.
He has not called me MLK Jr III.
He has not called me Mother Theresa or Albert Einstein, or the Apostle Paul, or by any other name but my own. He made me to glorify Him by meeting the needs He has gifted me to meet.
But even more so, He has not called me Jesus. I think that's the root of my heart problem right there.
I am not Jesus.
I am not here to single-handedly redeem this broken world and make it beautiful again. Be like him, yes, that is my greatest wish and aim of my life. Be capable or called to his purpose or worthy of His glory, no. (Matthew 20:22-23, Revelations 5)
All the heroes I wish to imitate, they were all created for a purpose and yet none of them set out to do something so that they would be called a hero, they were simply responding in love to a situation God had gifted them to speak into. Even Jesus on many occasions rebuked those who wished to draw attention to him and chose to focus on what He was doing rather than who noticed. (John 6:38, Mathew 26:37-39, Mathew 1:43-44, Mathew 9:30) Why? I can only assume that drawing attention at that moment didn't achieve the purpose He was on earth for.
The lesson I've learned is that my value doesn’t come from the cause I embrace, because no single cause is going to save the world. If I set out to be the hero I will end up disappointed and useless, because the God I love tends to shower glory most on those who are not seeking it for themselves and He seems to get satisfaction out of using the least qualified candidates to be his victors.
I am finding peace in embracing the truth that God knows me by name and has gifted me, but not to be involved in every good thing. I'm embracing the truth that my life is still of value on the days when, though I am not housing refugees, I am generous with my tip money for the minimum wage worker who made my lunch. My life is still of value when I am not lobbying for change in our country’s mental health crisis, but calling a friend I know is struggling. My life is of value on days when I have not set foot outside the safety of my country but I have stood still long enough to praise the God who created the mountains, trees, and souls that surround me each day.
This may not make sense to those struggling with complacency; I recognize the real temptation that attitude has on many lives, and the alternative expression of pride it represents. I know there is so much more to be done in this world than we give our schedules or pocketbooks credit for, but I don’t think the solution is in trying to take on the world's problems in a day. This is a call for those of us who are so distracted by the busyness of making a difference that we forget the most important obligation of doing our own part well.
God doesn’t make mistakes. He knows you by name and calls you by it.
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