(from the desk of Taylor Boice)
If you’re anything like me, you tend to complain a bit during the midterm season.
Actually, if you’re like me, you tend to complain a lot regardless of what season it is. Sometimes, I am able to prevent myself from saying my objections out loud; but you can be sure I’m thinking them. This is especially true when I feel the stress of this crazy, busy time of year. It is no secret that the life of a college student is hectic: constantly balancing freedom and fun with schoolwork and ever-growing responsibilities. If you add in all the extra teams, clubs, programs, and everything else that takes up our time; it can be overwhelming.
It is in these times I need a change of perspective. Recently, I went on a service learning trip with my world poverty class to Breakthrough Ministries in the Garfield Park area of Chicago. In case you don’t know, Breakthrough is a homeless shelter and community center that is committed to furthering the lives of the people they serve. This ministry doesn’t just offer hand-outs, they want to see people succeed and find a way out of poverty.
While I was at Breakthrough, I had the opportunity to help prepare and serve lunch to a group of men, and these men had a profound effect on me. As they went through the line eagerly accepting their food, almost every single one of them looked at us and offered profound thanks for the meal. I don’t think I saw anyone complaining about being there; they were all grateful that they had a place to go and a chance to improve their lives. I talked to a man named Leroy for a long time after lunch, and his story blew me away. Leroy was living in New Orleans in 2005 when hurricane Katrina hit, and he talked about his journey of survival and his relocation to cities around the United States. Leroy had joy in the fact that he was alive that day, had food to eat, and hope for a better tomorrow. His happiness and energy took our entire group by surprise, and caused me to take a deeper look at my own life.
There is no doubt that I am stressed at times, and that’s ok. But, instead of wallowing in my busyness and stress, I need to be thankful for the countless blessings God has given to me. I am have a family, friends, food, shelter, enough money to survive, and I go to the ability to attend college. These are just a few reasons to be thankful, but more importantly I am thankful for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Because of his willingness to die for me, I have assurance of eternal life. What else could I ever want? I realize that life in Christ must move me away from a self-focused place and towards a broken world that so needs Christ’s love. I am aware that it’s far more difficult to be a narcissist when my focus is on seeking justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with my God.
I don’t know if you’re in exactly the same boat as me, or if you complain as much as I do, but I hope this post causes you to think about some of the blessings in your life. I also hope that in times of struggle, you will turn to God and his mercies. I guarantee He will give you what you need and offer you opportunities to share your blessings, rather than your complaints.