clean sheets and the nursery

When I’m dropping my kids off in the nursery at church, a nice sweet mom used to corner me to ask me where I’d like to serve in the children’s ministry.

And. Just because I have children does not mean you should put me in charge of other people’s.
Little people scare me. Sometimes even my own.

I’m so grateful that there are people with perfect hair and ironed skirts who want to sing songs and change diapers and dole out goldfish. But I’m not really that girl.
Don’t get me wrong, I am more than willing to do my share. As long as it doesn’t involve hand motions.

The last time she asked I said, “I’d really rather feed homeless people than teach Sunday School”. And she laughed like I’d just told her a funny joke.
“No, really, I insisted I mean that. I really like homeless people. And the thought of being left alone with a dozen three year olds makes me want to breathe into a paper bag. But, I’m happy to sub or fill in or whatever you need. Occasionally. Just let me know”.
“Oh.” She said. And never asked again.

And since it was getting me out of toddler duty, I figure I should go when my church heads to the homeless park downtown. The last time I went reluctantly. I had no small talk in me. Whatsoever. For church people or park people. But I went anyways.
The park was crowded and there were only a handful of volunteers. I couldn’t work fast enough and we ran out of food and I couldn’t keep people from talking to me. And not awkward small talk but sit down and pour out their stories kind of talking. No one tried to dry hump me (which has happened). I did get unsolicited advice on my nail polish choice and that I should take better care of my cuticles from a fiftyish toothless man. Another lady asked if I knew where she could get a purse. I immediately went to my car and dumped everything out of mine and brought it to her. Feeling pretty good about myself, except she then declined. Really. A homeless lady who was using a Walmart bag as a purse snubbed her nose at mine. I think I might need to upgrade. Right after I take better care of my cuticles.

My favorite was a man who told me about getting arrested for stealing fifty grand. Then he sat me down to compare tattoos and eventually started to preach to me. Which was a little backwards since I was the church lady there to serve him and he was the one who had served time. He talked about how God spoke to him in prison and was using him on the streets. Told me he’d been clean for two days. But that he planned on doing some heroin after he ate his lunch. I told him maybe he could try for day3. And something about that floored me. The fact that he could be so fired up and so screwed up at the same time. Because I feel like that a lot. And maybe that is why I like going to the homeless park instead of working the church nursery. Why I don’t have a hard time looking people there in the eye. No one is hididng anything. They are just hungry. And I felt that way last time I went to the beach. When I’d run in the morning I saw a few bums sleeping off their drink from the night before. Curled up on the sand with cheap wine laying nearby. I just kept thinking that there wasn’t a lot of difference between them and me. I just had clean sheets.

And I still sometimes feel guilty about my minimal involvement in the children’s ministry at my church. Or the women’s ministry. Or not going to a weekly bible study. Or a billion other things I don’t do. But maybe there are lots of ways to serve and be fed. Like finding Jesus in a guy with a rap sheet and no teeth and praying he makes it to day 3. Wishing he had clean sheets too.

 I also wrote the above weeks ago. Not even intentionally as a blog post, but again kind of forgot about it.  I've been Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker. And she isn't saying anything I've never heard before. But somehow she is saying it right to my heart. My favorite line I read last night was this...
"We are all poor. Some of us just have more stuff."
This song has been messing with my head too...


Kate said...

It's better to be honest about who we're better able to serve in this life. And kids are overwhelming and a bit terrifying.
But I'm amazed at your strength. A friend of mine training to be a minister shared something about a church stopping their free meals - it was bringing the wrong people. ??? If we only serve those who are already seeking, we miss too much. And yet, I find myself uncomfortable with the stark realization that really we're the same. Shame on me.
And what a glorious song. I love Kasey Chambers.

Megan said...

This is a fabulous post. And I love how you can look the homeless in the eye because they're just who they are.