This past summer, a friend and I were talking about her work in Central America at a convent with a group of nuns who served the poor in that area. The way she spoke of their simple life was in a beautiful way that made me envious of the little that they had. They truly connected with God in a way that wasn’t distracted by the many things that we need in this modern world. And I think in a lot of ways, they are probably more fulfilled than most but most of us are too scared to give up what we have for the risk of something less. To scared to truly “die to self” as Jesus calls us to do. But that is another conversation…
The thing that she told me that has often come to mind this year was that, “No one knows their name.” For every Mother Teresa that the world venerates, there are thousands of people like these nuns that labor for the sake of the Gospel, that labor with all of Christ’s love, and no one will ever know who they are. Instead we hear the horror stories of those who work “in the name of God” because they sell more papers; those who abuse their position and use God for selfish means. But these women, who in all likelihood don’t even consider what they have left compared to what they have gained, labor on in obscurity.
Why? Their stories should be told, we should hold them up as shining examples of what it means to follow Christ. But that even more important, in my own life, is that it bothers me that people don’t know these women. Because the honest truth is, it bothers me, not because I think of their stories and how they should be told, but because I think of how I want my story to be told. Selfish, I know, but honest.
Because, sad though it is to admit it, I want people to know who I am. I, too often, give in to this desire for “fame and fortune.” No, I am not trying to work my way to the top of the corporate ladder and make my millions and willing to step on everyone in the process. No, I am not actively seeking fame (unless you count this blog). But I do want to be known. I often desire for people to tell me, “Well done.” And I think this desire, though not inherently bad, is often just as selfish as they guy climbing the corporate ladder. Far too often I care about the opinions of others more than I care about whether I am following God closely.
I want to be a sellout. Sold out for the cause of Christ. I want to be so committed to the cause of Christ that it won’t matter to me if no one knows who I am. I want to be listening to God so closely that I am willing to work in a place where I see no results for years and years, if that is what God has called me to do. But I am not there yet. I know, I know, Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs says that we all need affirmation, but I want to be working for the “Well done, good and faithful servant,” the one opinion that truly counts.