Forty Two Going on Sixteen
by Kelsey Mortimer
When I was little, Mr. Steen always greeted me at the door of the church. He had a big smile on his face, a hug for me, and a comment about how beautiful I was. In elementary school, Mrs. Sivey held me close through the misery of illness one Sunday morning. Although I didn’t like her much up to that point (only because she made me behave), with that little act of kindness, she became my favorite Sunday School teacher.
As a teen, I remember watching home baked pies being bid up to absurd amounts of money in church auctions to raise money for mission trips. I remember when the teen center was purchased so the youth, of which I was one, could have a space to call their own.
In my first years of college, Mr. Thompson invited me to come share my faith with other teens in other churches through his ministry. During those trips, I heard the testimonies of many adults and learned to embrace and give my own testimony.
Through it all, I was growing up. I moved to a big city to go to college. I got married, found a new and exciting church, started my first job at a big company, gave birth to my first child, and watched my husband start his first company. Life got busy, sometimes even hard.
I’m not sure about you, but in my head, I am still 16. Sometimes I look around and wonder whose house I am in, whose kids are these, and why in the world do these people trust me with these responsibilities at work? I don’t always see myself as the adult in the room.
But since I am one of the adults in the room, I understand in a new way the effort it took for Mr. Steen to hold the door open every week with a smile, regardless of what his week entailed. Or the commitment Mrs. Sivey had to love a sick kid that didn’t love her. I understand that every pie bid up to hundreds of dollars was a selfless act of giving up something desired. And I am in awe of the sacrifices Mr. Thompson made to travel, unpaid, to hundreds of churches over the years to ensure every soul understood what a relationship with Jesus looked like.
I understand because I am an adult. And I am busy. And I don’t have unlimited finances. And I would rather travel on vacation than go on a mission trip. I understand and because I do, I am faced with the realization of my own selfishness.
When we were children, our natural position was that of the receiver. Our needs were provided for by those that surrounded us, responsibilities were limited, and when we selfishly got our needs met and failed to act as an adult, we were often excused. But somewhere, as we grow, we have to move from receiver to giver. Reorientation from receiver to giver is a journey. At times it can be joyful, at times it can be painful. But at some point, we have to look around the room and realize we are no longer the child. We must ask ourselves, if not me, then who?
Who will make that child feel loved by holding a door open with a smile? Who will hold that sick child in Sunday School until mom comes? Who will give up their wants to fund the needs of a growing church? Who will sacrifice their weekends to minister and mentor others?
If not me, then who?
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
Transitioning from the receiver to the giver is as much a mental state as anything else. We must envision ourselves as who we want to be. Will we be the Bible study teacher, the giver of finances, the family that carts all the neighbor kids to church, or the servant behind the scenes? Then we must take steps to make it happen. Study His word to gain confidence to teach, start giving just a little more, find a neighbor kid to bring, or setup chairs on Sunday mornings. As you begin to see yourself as the giver, God will be faithful to widen your foundation of giving. He will reveal new truths, bless your giving, give you eyes to see that child, and bring joy to your heart as you setup chairs.
Don’t ever underestimate the value and eternal impact of the giver. Know there is beauty, joy and satisfaction in the journey.
If not me, then who?