I am the kind of person that if I have a choice, I want to be on the A-Team. Most of us probably do not aim for the “B”-Team. Growing up, my goal was to be the team captain for kickball or, at least, be one of the first kids picked. I relished in getting special awards or recognition. As I tried out for the tennis team in high school, my sights were set on varsity, of course, and not JV. The “B”-Team was never my hope or goal. The B-Team meant I didn’t work hard enough, or wasn’t good enough. With a little hard work, the A-Team was possible. What do you do then, when you find yourself on the B-Team?
This summer I felt like I was on the “B”-Team and I didn’t like it. See, my husband and my 16-year-old son took a group of college students on a summer mission trip for a month. Usually, we do these sorts of things as a family, but not this summer. For different reasons, I was to stay behind on the B-Team. On this team, I felt like I was not living faithfully or trusting God with my time. In my mind, the “A”-Team was there and not here.
I found myself on the B-Team, yet still busy with A-Team tasks. Even though I was not going, there were things I ended up doing to help them go. Last year my husband and I began praying for this time and for the students who would say, “Yes,” to going. I met with some of the college women who were going a few times the months before they left. I checked on their fund development and was able to pray for them. I was so encouraged from these times. Though I would not be physically with them, I was able to write them notes and let them know I would be praying for them each day in the work they were doing. While they were gone, I did forget to pray sometimes, so the kids and I would cover this at meals and before they went to bed. It felt like we were praying for them all the time. When you have a husband and child on the A team, they are always on your mind.
The month before the trip I was busy getting doctors appointments for Brian and Wesley, making lists and shopping. I enjoyed packing them each a snack bag with some favorite snacks. Those last few days were packed as they prepared to go.
As I reflected upon the B-Team, it seemed like all I was doing was “just helping” this group to go and be faithful. As I communicated with my husband, I noticed he had more freedom to invest in the summer mission project, than if our whole family was there. It enabled Him to connect and work more closely alongside some of the national staff and students. Yet, I didn’t want to help or enable, I wanted to go!
Moving like a river
These feelings of wanting to be somewhere other than where I am, or be someone other than who I am, are not new to me. By nature, we usually want to be somewhere else, look to the next stage or phase– finding ourselves restless. We are like a river, moving on and on— looking for contentment or meaning in the next thing.
The famous quote of Augustine is fitting and says,
Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.
My heart tends to look for rest or contentment in what I don’t have– in a finished job, a more secure salary (just a little more), a better use of time, or being somewhere else. There is always something else. This summer I was not always happy with the place I landed. I was like the river, wanting to be moving on to something else– like overseas to South Asia. I wanted to experience the new culture, care for the A-Team, be actually there to pray for the desperate situation and the darkness that is so evident.
What about you? Where are you finding that your heart is restless? Is your plan not working out? Is your boss not what you expected? Are you tired of being lonely or bored? Is your spouse not meeting your expectations? Our tendency will always be to look for rest or contentment in something else. I think this is nothing new, but how do we change this? It is difficult to stop a moving river.
Remaining like a pond
It doesn’t sound exciting but I have found that actually I need to be more like a simple pond. At first glance, a pond doesn’t seem very significant, yet it provides many benefits and serves many purposes for the environment right around it.
While being on the B -Team I found myself engaged in a few different projects. My husband’s office needed a good cleaning out, things rearranged, pictures hung, a chair recovered, and some additional shelving. Though his office was a mess (sorry, hon!), I am thankful that he often chooses “us,” and chooses to come home at a decent time (instead of having a clean office), when there is always more to do.
Soon I had my next project before me– the tiny women’s bathroom at our office, which our 14 staff and intern women use. It is one of those places, that even after being cleaned, it does not feel clean because of the dated wallpaper, stained sink and the thought of cockroaches scurrying and lurking about. Soon this sad room had a fresh coat of happy light blue paint, a clean white sink, a new mirror, cute cabinet and a few roach baits! As I painted, I was able to pray for those women who would enjoy the new fresh paint.
In the process I was reminded of my gifting– that I am good at managing and organizing. I find enjoyment in making things better and in being creative. I love it when the two meet to bless someone else. I could have used my gifts over there on the A-Team, but I wasn’t over there– I was here. I was like a small insignificant pond. As I finished these projects, the pond didn’t feel so insignificant. While they were gone I had important conversations with my kids and thought of fun things to do. The time felt valuable. The B-Team became a treasure. I am God’s pond and He what makes where I am significant. I am learning to find rest, not in the place, but in Him.
Now I am still waiting for my opportunity to go, but for now I need to:
- rest right where God has me– not in the place but in Him
- use my gifting right where I am. This prepares me for when I am at the “next” place– for that will be the place for using the gifts He has given me.
- value enabling others to go or be on the A-Team. Often I want to be that person; but my piece in the puzzle matters and affects the other pieces and the whole picture.
- see that the A-Team is right where God places me. The A-Team is with Him.
Lastly, as I saw photos and heard stories, my husband reminded me of how rich we are. I know that, but he reminded me of this. We have been to the most populated and largest countries in the world. As we interact with the people over there, we are reminded of the amazing resources God has given us— finances, possessions, freedom, the English language, and the gospel… Even though we are here, we cannot forget there. We don’t want to be an isolated pond, but one that shares the wealth of what we have to those who are incredibly thirsty. Yet, many do not know how thirsty and hungry they are. It is like ordering a fast-food hamburger, and not knowing you can have a steak.
This is the A-Team: being on the team right where God places you and seeking to meet the needs of others with the resources God has given you for His purposes. I am not sure there is B- Team. but I am glad I got to be on the A-Team afterall!