Insignificance. It has never been my most sought after goal in life; in fact, it has never really been a goal of mine at all. Is there anything even in our human DNA that desires to spend our lives without impacting another or without being remembered for a single thing? It just never even crossed my mind that there is time to be spent even pondering such a thing as insignificance. Being in leadership last year, I almost took it for granted that people looked to me for guidance and if I didn’t do my job people would be affected by it. But where is the motivation when you could completely drop everything you are doing, never to pick it up again, and not a single soul would notice? It is rather hard to find.
Coming into this semester, I was enrolled in a mission’s program that would give me a glimpse at what a lifestyle of ministry looks like. I suppose I assumed (unconsciously) that this would involve me making a personal impact on people’s lives. Ironically, this notion of mine is usually why missionaries are unsuccessful, because it becomes too much about them and not about God’s people. However, I wasn’t at all aware of this mentality or expectation of mine until it wasn’t fulfilled.
Doing ministry with near-impossible language barrier and a predominantly male group of refugees from places where women are not equal to men made ministry rather challenging to say the least. There were weeks I would sit silently at a table of people, smiling when appropriate, but otherwise doing little. Other weeks I would spend the time cleaning or organizing with Maddi, not interacting with the refugees at all and realizing that truly anyone on earth could be washing those cups or stacking those books. My time there seemed to require no talent of mine, and quite frankly the minimal I did feel I could do would not be missed if I were gone. Just talk about feeling insignificant.
But then, as the weeks pressed on and those weeks turned into months, God revealed something precious and humbling to me. He had never sent me there to have all those lives remember who “Rylie Shore” is. He sent me there with an honor and privilege of stepping into the work he had already begun in healing and meeting the needs of His people, as he had and has continued to do in my own life. Then the little stab came as I realized I had come in thinking I had something to offer these people, completely overlooking the fact that we were all seeking the same exact things from God, whether or not they have come to know Him yet.
Embracing my insignificance in this situation, I realized my only job was to love them humbly the way Christ has revealed his love to me. As I showed them I have the same needs they have come to Soggiorno (the ministry center) for (the need to belong, the need for friendship, the need for laughter, encouragement, and joy) and live in a way that reveals to them I have had these needs met in God and His kingdom, I have found my significance in the sight of God. And interestingly enough, God has blessed me with gaining some irreplaceable friendships out of this work that is entirely His and not at all due to my own efforts. Though leaving this semester I realize some will easily come next semester to fill my shoes, this is a beautiful thing. This only means that the work we have been doing really does make people dependent on God and not at all on us, which also means He shall receive all the glory due His name in the work that is completed. Hallelujah!
Rylie Shore, Rome 2013