some days, i act like i'm the superhero CHICAGO has been waiting for. that somehow my prayers, actions, efforts are just what kids + families in the city need in order to feel loved, know jesus, turn from bad choices, and find meaning in their lives.
but, it is easy for me to feel down when my efforts appear not to be changing an entire city.
these days, when attendance numbers get me down, or anxious thoughts take over my mind, i remind myself that true impact appears to happen life-by-life, one-by-one. one child, one volunteer, one family. not a CITY. one life, by one life.
in my job as family pastor, i spend a good part of my day walking alongside families in crisis and chaotic seasons. as i imagine you do in your jobs, i see all types of families just trying to do their best, to not only provide food + shelter for their kids, but a brighter future than they had.
recently, i was supporting a friend in family court. the courthouse might be the darkest place in the city: divorces, child custody disagreements, and a whole slew of ugly, domestic issues. watching the dissolution of family, specifically when it impacts children, really gets me down.
later that day, i walked from the courthouse back to church, feeling heavy hearted and discouraged. i wondered, what difference my effort was really making for the larger good of the world. i pray with people, i offer encouragement, i give advice, and still, on that day it felt like darkness was winning.
and then, as always, God's spirit spoke to me. not in an audible way, but a quiet whisper in my soul as is often the case in my christian faith. his spirit whispered: one by one, i've asked you to care for, and offer love and kindness to your small community. you want to do big things, i want you to be faithful with each life. be present with one family, knowing that simple act of love will be enough.
because, here's the thing. each of us, doing our small parts, our small acts of love and kindness will be enough when added together. none of can change the world for good all on our own. but, together, the power of community, each one being faithful to the church, neighborhood, business, village, God has placed us in, called us to, and empowered us to lead and serve, we will overcome evil. we can make a difference, but it will take all of us, offering a smile, a kind word, a forgivable spirit when mistakes are made, a gentle attitude, a generous heart for the poor, a listening ear to those different than us, grace for the unlovable, and above all, love for all.
today, i'm committed to doing my part. not as a superhero for the city, but as a faithful leader for my community. BECAUSE, when we add together each one of our small parts -- there's the power! the magic! a city, a world might actually be changed for the better.