God takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary

December 16th, 2014

I'm guilty of adopting the "go big or go home" mentality in all that I do. When I want to do an act of kindness, I want to make it count. I want it to have a big impact. I want it to change lives.

So it's easy to dismiss small and ordinary acts because they seem so... ordinary. I want to discover a way to give someone a lifetime supply of fish rather than giving them one fish or teaching them how to fish.

The pressure to come up with something that's life-altering is unbearable. And the side effect of that is it's easy to get discouraged trying to come up with something that grand that you simply don't do anything. Nothing seems right or big enough or life changing enough.

Which leads me to dinner at Wendy's.

The restaurant was empty except for my wife, our foster son and myself  because it's Wendy's. The young woman who took our order eventually made her way to our table while cleaning.

"Is that your son?" she asked.

"Yes... well, no. He's our foster son," I replied.

"Oh. That makes sense, because you know, he doesn't really... look like you guys."

We get that a lot. After all, my wife and I are so blatantly Asian and the our foster son is not.

She begin to ask all sorts of questions about fostering and we were more than happy to answer them. Then she asked, "So when will he be able to go back to his parents?"

About a month ago, the county let us know that they are recommending termination of parental rights and that our foster son will be up for adoption. That was never the plan. We took him in fully expecting him to be reunited with his parents. And now, we have no idea what to do. We go back and forth. We debate. We discuss.

And that's what we basically told the Wendy's employee.

Sympathetically, she looked at our foster son and said, "You guys should keep him. He's really, really cute."

There's no denying that. He's as adorable as a gigantic four-year-old can be.

We smiled and said, "That doesn't hurt his case, huh?"

If only it were that simple.

After we finished our meal, we decided to go all-in on our "healthy" dinner and get some Frostys for dessert.

So I went to the counter to order two Frostys from the worker who took an interest in us. I was about to pay when she said, "This one is definitely on me. You guys enjoy these Frostys."

I can't tell you how incredibly blessed I was by this small act of generosity. This went beyond three dollars worth of ice cream.

At times I've felt that God has been far too silent for my liking during this discernment process. How I desperately want God to open up the heavens and just tell me what to do like, "Hey, Moron. Adopt him." I'd respond to that. But silence has been the response.

Through an act of kindness from a stranger, I felt reassured that though I may perceive silence, I should not mistake that for abandonment.

God was with me. God is with us. And God will be with us regardless of our decision. It went deeper than free Frostys.

I was amazed at how far a small act of kindness can go and how silly it is to dismiss acts of kindness because they seem so small or ordinary. That's the great thing about God: taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary.

Small things can make a huge impact.

Shane Claiborne talked about how it was the small things that Jesus did that stuck with folks. The people he healed became sick again; the people he raised from the dead eventually died again; the people he fed became hungry again.

But it was the way Jesus made them feel that stayed with them.

Grace-filled eye contact for those who'd felt judgmental eyes burning holes in their skin; a loving touch on those who'd been exiled from community; genuine conversations with folks who were ignored  these were just as life-changing as turning water into wine.

Which reminds me of the Mother Teresa quote: "Not everyone can do great things but we can all do small things with great love."

We don't know how much a small thing done with great love can impact someone's life. At the same time, we shouldn't be too obsessed with the impact we can have  we should simply love and do.

Go and let someone know God is with them through acts of love and grace. You just don't know how God will use you.

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