WHY – It Matters

July 1, 2015

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

This is an article written for the church’s monthly newsletter, the Communique, published in July, 2015. 

Wild & Wacky Wednesdays began in June, and while these evenings are usually filled with outdoor games and a lot of running around, our “first fruits” were used for an outreach project – preparing lunches for the Rainbow Village kids. In the preceding weeks parishioners had donated salty and sweet snacks, bread, fruit cups – you get the idea. So, on this first Wednesday night, the kids and youth would be decorating 150 lunch bags, writing 150 notes for the RV kids, and then filling these bags with all the lunch goodies.

IMG_2546As soon as the kids arrived, we got them signed in and put them to work! Armed with color pencils and stickers they immediately started decorating bags, one by one. Some designs were very elaborate, others more modest, and all were GOOD.

Even so, it didn’t take long before I began to notice that some kids, after making a few bags, seemed bored. You see, this craft project wasn’t something they would be taking home; it wasn’t going to be a gift for their mom or dad; they weren’t creating a toy they could play with later. It was just one brown paper bag after another… and we needed 150 of them.

At one point I noticed that some of the kids were losing momentum. The fidgeting had begun, and in a few cases, we had an all-out work stoppage! This was especially true for the youngest helpers, so I went to one of these youngsters, Callie, to see how she was doing.

The great thing about kids is they’ll tell it to you straight, and Callie is no exception. She told me flat-out that she was bored and her body language made it clear that she wasn’t interested in decorating any more bags. She asked with a hint of exasperation “What are we doing?” So, I explained to her that there are kids that receive lunch at their schools during the school year, but during the summer, when they don’t go to school, they don’t always have a way to get lunch. I told her that what we were doing was putting together lunches so that the children at Rainbow Village would have lunches to take with them to camp the next week. And I asked, “Can you imagine what it would be like to not know if you would have lunch, or where it would come from?”

Now, if you know Callie, you know she’s a thinker, and I could see the wheels turning behind her crinkled brow. Within seconds she spun back toward her table looking for a brown paper bag to decorate. When there weren’t any on her table, she went to the next table and grabbed one of theirs. IMG_1269She was now on-fire for decorating bags! When we finished packing the lunches and found that were still needed three more bags, Callie’s hand popped up and she said “I’ll decorate them!”

Her mom told me later that as soon as she picked up Callie, before they even got down the front steps, Callie was telling her mom about what they had done and sharing that she couldn’t imagine what it would be like to not have lunch.

In seeing the transformation, I realized I missed an essential element of this “first fruits” experience – not taking the time to convey the WHY of what we were doing. I also realized that even without the WHY, you can get some folks to do things for a while, simply because they are asked to, or are expected to. But, if you want them committed for the long-haul, they have to understand and get connected to the WHY. WHY matters!

This is true in what we do in our daily life, and is essential to our faith journey, too. When we find ourselves just going through the motions, losing momentum or find ourselves “stuck” it’s time to step back and ask “Why?”

Is this something I am connected to, and if so WHY? Discerning the WHY matters.

And allowing Callie to be “the child who leads us” we see clearly that there’s nothing more invigorating than finding the WHY that sets your life on fire!

Photo by Bruce Halliburton

Photo by Bruce Halliburton

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