Friday, April 13, 2012

This is my life.

The other day I spent most of the day at one of our other houses, filling in for an assistant who was on some time away. Over the past few months I've spent some time in this other house, covering for other assistants when they are on vacation or away for some other reason, and so I've started to figure out the routines and to form some relationships with some of the guys.

So, I was sitting at a small kitchen table, that fits about four people, with two of the guys. Now, these two guys are probably the two with the highest support needs in our community. I was sitting there, and Brian was on one side munching on some trail mix. Ray was on the other side of me, and I was helping him eat some pudding. There was some soft music playing on the cd player on the table, and Ray was rattling off the list of activities that he wanted to do after he was done eating.

As I sat there, and looked back and forth at these two gentlemen, a thought crossed my mind. "This is my life."

It wasn't a frustrated or downhearted thought, like I couldn't believe that out of all of the more exciting or thrilling possibilities that this was what my life has become. I know that, in the scheme of things, I have not chosen the most fashionable or cool way to live. But it wasn't about that.

At that moment, the thought "this is my life," was a statement of contentment. I was content to be there, in that moment, with those two gentlemen. To have the opportunity to learn such simple, yet meaningful, things from them. Like how it's good to show your appreciation for something you enjoy, even if that means watching all of the credits of a movie and clapping through the entire thing. Or getting so excited about a song on the radio that your excitement and joy is expressed by your entire body.

For most of my life, I feel like I've felt a lot of pressure to compete and to achieve. You know, in school and college and seminary it always seemed the goal was to get the best grade, to make it onto the honor roll, to graduate with honors, to win the competition, to score the most points. Even when I graduated seminary and worked in a church, it seemed like I was expected to achieve a lot, to write a great sermon, to teach an amazing lesson in Confirmation, to come up with the best plan to get young people involved in church. Everything was based on how much I could do or what I was capable of achieving and how well I could do it.

But right then, at that moment, sitting at that kitchen table with Ray and Brian... none of that mattered. They didn't care what score I got on the SAT or what my GPA was in high school. They didn't care what kind of athlete I was or how great of a sermon I could write. They just cared that I was there, sitting with them while they ate their pudding and trail mix. They didn't really care what I was capable of doing, they just cared that I was capable of being.

I think sometimes we can get too caught up with doing. We think that our self-worth is tied up with what we can do, what we are capable of achieving. But really, that isn't the case at all. And that day, while I was sitting at that table, I was reminded that our self-worth is more about being. It's about being who we are and who God created us to be. And at that moment, I was extremely grateful that this is my life, to be able to spend time, and to be, with people who remind me of it everyday.


  1. Hey Mark, I'm at L'Arche in Chicago. I totally resinate with so much of what you write here! Thank you! I cannot image my life anywhere else right now. I think Nouwen would agree with what you say here. Peace, Lisa Sinnott

    1. Thanks, Lisa! I'm sure you have many similar experiences at your community. And the Nouwen comment is a HUGE compliment :)!!!