Others

I did it to myself, and I knew better. That last cup of late night coffee created my self induced insomnia and now I was dealing with its effects.

Isn’t it something, the vast scope of topics our mind travels to as we lay awake in bed?

Over the course of an hour, I simultaneously had a  brain storming session about my upcoming conference,  confronted a difficult parent over a recent ugly, team sports situation, cooked my bulk ground beef in the crock pot for tomorrow’s Taco Casserole and basically solved our nation’s health care issues, all from the comfort of my bed without opening my mouth.

I fluffed my pillow a few times, tossed and turned trying to get comfortable, and then began a slow descent.

Doubts about my blog, my lack of “drive,” and even questions of how I fit into this social media circle slowly crept to the surface. The new worlds the internet opens is truly a gift, but it also brings its own set of challenges and insecurities to those of us who share words here.

Do my words matter? Can I make this post better for Pinterest? Do my readers even care any more about my ramblings? Is anyone even out there?

As I write this, I shudder to think how easy my thought life becomes all about me.

Sleep finally lured me in, and with morning light, clarity surfaced.

Imperfection is beautiful

I stumbled downstairs to start a fresh pot of coffee (I know, I know, that started this problem). I glanced towards my kitchen island, and the first sun rays peeked through the clouds. It felt like nearly a month since I’d seen that beauty. It filled my heart with anticipatory joy of things to come; a celebration for the new day.

As I rounded the corner, I noticed the words illuminated by the rays.

Others

Written just the day before as a reminder of my focus, I smiled at the Lord’s gentle nudging. He personally highlighted it for me.

Others. Jen. It’s as simple as that, others.

Sometimes we spend all our time looking in vain for some spectacular event, some larger than life calling, when it’s right in front of us.

Others.

It’s in the small, seemingly ordinary of our every day that we are called to be faithful. It’s not just through flowery phrases or scripted reflections that He finds favor, but it’s when our hearts are turned towards those around us at the grocery store, in our child’s school, in our workplace, that He multiplies our ministry.

Do I purpose in my heart to look to the interest of just one other person each day? One stranger with whom to interact? One lonely woman hiding in her cubical? We never know the impact that exchange might have.

Oh Lord, use my small, ordinary offerings to bring you Glory. I know that you’ve ordained them for Your purpose.  Remind me, Lord, that You are the Potter and I am the clay. Each day, carve out a little less of me, so that people may see more of You.

As I finished up a conversation at church, I saw a gentleman waiting. I recognized him from our congregation, but not someone with whom I’ve interacted. He asked if he could speak to me a few minutes, and proceeded to tell me of a conversation that we  shared nearly ten years ago.

During one of the most devastating times in his life, the encouragement I shared impacted him so greatly that he needed to let me know of the life change that occurred over the last decade.

Without going into all the detail, needless to say, my words impacted him.

I could scarcely breathe.

We finished our exchange. He walked away and I stood, stunned. Tears rolled down my face with disbelief, but a new understanding washed over me.

This was not about me. It was about Him slowly chiseling away to reveal Himself.

I thought back to my life stage ten years ago and pondered what I could possibly have said that mattered. I was a young mom with five little ones. I had no “life.”

When my days consisted solely of changing diapers, blowing noses and a beauty regime that routinely included breakfasts’ dried oatmeal in my hair, my availability mattered.

During my invisible moments, God used me.

I didn’t even remember our conversation, which leads me to believe that nothing earth shattering flowed from my lips, but I was available.

Present. Others focused.

That’s what it was. I was fully present in the moment.

I had no agenda. No set course for that conversation. I listened and he felt heard.

This wasn’t about a notable platform or words I’d written. It had nothing to do with leadership roles held or some lofty goal attained.

It centered around a small moment; a seemingly insignificant exchange with a stranger that profoundly impacted how he viewed his next steps.

The ordinary used for His Glory. That is only God.

“…God chose what the world counts weak to put its strong things to shame, and God chose what the world counts poor and insignificant… “   1 Corinthians 1:28

 

QWe could start a powerful revolution if we banded together and focused just one small, seemingly insignificant moment towards someone else, but let’s not expect anything in return. Won’t you join me? What might yours be today?

Written by Jen of Balancing Beauty and Bedlam & 10 Minute Dinners.

It's about others
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  1. 1

    Jennifer, your words bring such encouragement to my heart right now, inviting me towards deeper surrender and freedom. I feel so trapped when I make things about me, although I so often don’t even realize I’m doing it until later, and the anxiety and self-inflicted pressure kicks in. Loving others first is always the gift, as it is then that I am experiencing jesus. Thank you for this blessing.

    • 2

      You are so welcome, and SO right!!

      It’s so easy to slide into making it about ourselves and I want to guard against it, but often I don’t realize it until later either. My frustrations or loneliness or whatever becomes about me. UGH!

      The Lord knew I needed that reminder and literally took His heavenly highlighter pen to point it right out for me. :)

  2. 3

    I generally “skim” posts, getting the general idea of it, but I read yours word for word. Beautiful, thank you!

  3. 5

    This was so encouraging! Thank you for this post, definitely needed to read this at this moment! :)

  4. 7

    This is just what my mama heart needed to hear today. I am in the THICK of a season with littles, where not a second of my day belongs to me. I got up at 5:00 am today to spend time with God and then work on blog stuff. The baby got up at 5:05 and is chatting away.

    Thank you for reminding me that this life really is about OTHERS and the ordinary used for His Glory.

    • 8

      oh NJ, even though I am a few years removed from those 5 am baby wake up calls, I am transported instantly!

      You MATTER!! These moments matter. You may not know your impact right now or even years from now, but the difference you are making…huge! We just don’t always receive the gift of seeing it in action.

      • 9

        NJ, I am brought to tears by your post! Like Jen, I am instantly transported back to all those years ago with two little boys and feeling so overwhelmed and invisible! But allow me to share this– my little boys are 33 and 35 now and are wonderful men and fathers themselves, and one of the truest joys I have ever experienced came from something my younger son said to me. He said, “Mom, I pray that I can be like you. You’ve always been there for me, through everything. My earliest memory is of you and your nurturing. I want my girls to remember me that way.” I remember myself back then as frazzled, wild eyed, tired and grumpy! But somehow through all the confusion, God brought forth good that grew in my boys.

        So be blessed sweet young mother — your efforts are seen by our Father in heaven and your nurturing and caring for others will be multiplied. I wish you love and joy as you die to self and allow God to do His amazing work through you!

  5. 10

    Your words are beautiful :)

  6. 12

    Jennifer,
    “Present. Others focused.” Your words sum it up so well. My word for 2014 is “intentional” and your post was a needed reminder that in order to be intentional, I need to be present and others focused. Just what I needed with my coffee this morning :)
    Blessings,
    Bev

  7. 14

    When I focus on myself, my world becomes so small. Life becomes sad, I’ve noticed. It’s only been in opening my life, my struggles, my heart to others that I have found joy, purpose, healing. It seems so counter-intuitive, but the only way to fill yourself up is to pour yourself out. God’s ways never cease to amaze me. Today, I will send that note of encouragement I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks now.

  8. 16

    Your thoughts sound very similar to what goes through my head/thoughts all. day. long. I don’t even need the extra cup of coffee at night to get it started.

    And no matter how little or how much sleep I received the first thing I do every morning is make that pot of coffee….its my favorite time of the day for sure! I cannot give that up. ;-)

  9. 18

    “It’s in the small, seemingly ordinary of our every day that we are called to be faithful.”

    “During my invisible moments, God used me.”

    Such great insight…loved reading this. Your post is a reminder that we need to be present with GOD, so that He can give us the words to say to others on those ordinary days.

    Thank you for sharing this morning!

  10. 19

    This is the encouragement I needed today-I struggle with my writing and my place (or lack of it) in the larger blogging/internet world. We’ve stepped down from a pastoral role and are prayerfully charting a new course. And in that and it’s struggles, I forget that life isn’t all about me. God wants me to be outward focused, to look to serve others. I think it should one way, but God says it looks like serving, it looks like availability and being present. The simplicity of it makes it even harder for me to grasp sometimes, just show up and be where God places you. That’s all I need to do in this season. Thank you for the reminder.

  11. 22

    I absolutely love God’s perfect timing in encouraging you through that precious gentleman! What a testimony of how He used your words…of how He can use all our words.

    Words sometimes don’t seem like much of an offering, but clearly the Lord uses them to touch the hearts of others. And as you so wisely point out, that is what it’s all about.

  12. 23

    Oh this is beautiful and yes how often I forget all of this!! Thank you for your transparency and honest thoughts!

  13. 24

    Wow, I love it when God uses other people to confirm a theme lesson in my life. Just this past weekend, I came to a similar conclusion – at our church women’s retreat – that each woman is beautiful, wonderfully made in the image of God, and I am called to notice her as an individual among the crowd. Everyone has a story, a collection of needs, hurts, and victories. When we take time to look another woman in the eye and truly hear her, God’s love is active and significant. Thank you for your words here, Jen. They minister to my heart today.

  14. 25

    Thank you so much, Jennifer, for these words. How easily we fall into the trap of thinking of ourselves more often than we should. Thinking about how I am effected instead of how God wants to work through us to effect others.

    Today as I travel through my day I am going to keep this in my mind…..Others. Putting my kids before Facebook, greeting the cashier with a smile before my own hurriedness of packing away my groceries. I’m going to try and remember this today in my errand running! Thank you!

  15. 26

    Hi Jennifer,
    I loved your post today and I totally agree with it. I always enjoy your words and you are always one of my favorite writers on (In)courage. It’s so awesome that whenever I get discouraged about my own blog, God always sends a little note or comment through someone to say I am making a difference. The size of the audience really doesn’t matter does it? Each person matters to God. He is so faithful. I loved your “Wise in my own eyes,” post too and shared it with my hubby. Keep up the good work. It does matter. Have an awesome day!
    Wendy :)

  16. 28

    You’re speaking to my heart, Jennifer. Just this past weekend, I asked some of the very same questions you asked in the beginning of this post about your blog and what impact your writing is having. And the word that came out of my mouth was failure. I’m so prone to seeking a visible outcome. To expect making an impact to look a certain way. And I often have to remind myself of the truths you’ve shared here.

    • 29

      I could have written exactly what you wrote, and my real, deep questioning came this past weekend too. Why am I so driven to be known for my words? A drive that gets wrapped up in obsession, jealousy, envy and feelings of inadequacy. I had to confess it all to God and realize the sin it was producing in my life- and once confessed, God spoke to my heart and said, “I just want YOU. And I want you to let Me love you completely.”

      And there was peace.

    • 30

      For me, the enemy knows exactly where he can throw his arrows and often, it ties into inadequacy amidst the blogging world. Something I CHOOSE to do. UGH! I know that if I continue to minister in an on line place, I MUST get that area of my life in line with the Lord’s truth.

  17. 31

    I post this on my Facebook “It is the small and subtle things in life that speak volume. When you learn to be attentive to it, you will see the hand of God orchestrating His will unto your path.” For awhile I’ve being asking the same thing about my blog and my work as a photographer, but it is when we start to see how God sees, the small details of His plan that we begin to realize the purpose of our calling. Thanks for sharing this beautiful piece.

  18. 33

    Jen: You spoke right to the heart of me this morning. It was me mentally cooking that meal (I think I must do this every day, but I had never thought of it before you mentioned it). It was me questioning if anyone is reading the words I spill out onto my blog — thought less and less frequently. It was me lacking drive online, but recapturing a passion for connecting to those right in front of me. I have a chance today to speak to someone’s heart — someone hurting, who will be entering my home for a quick chat. And, I pray that God works through me to make that small moment into something meaningful or supportive or lovely or encouraging… or whatever she needs right now…

  19. 35

    so true! God has been showing me the same thing. I have felt God telling me no a lot lately. And even though I did not know why, I obeyed. 2 weeks ago my lovely MIL who I love with all my heart, fell deathly ill suddenly. 5 states away. By God’s miraculous hand, she is recovering to the amazement of her doctors. I needed to drop my life and be there not only for her, but to support my family. So off I went thinking I was putting whatever God had called me to on hold. Only to find out I was flying to my calling. I spent a week there loving my family, listening without judgement, praying for healing for my MIL and unity for our family. Being available. I KNOW I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Doctors, family, friends, and even strangers we met at the hospital were encouraged. That is GOD, that is how He works. What a privilege to be used by Him! Now I am encouraging by phone and text and prayer until we head back in the near future. Thanks for sharing Jennifer!

  20. 37

    What great inspiration, Thank you for sharing!

  21. 38

    Thank you so much for these encouraging words, Jennifer. I love this prayer – “Oh Lord, use my small, ordinary offerings to bring you Glory. I know that you’ve ordained them for Your purpose. Remind me, Lord, that You are the Potter and I am the clay. Each day, carve out a little less of me, so that people may see more of You.”

  22. 39

    Thank you for this important, fragrant reminder of what Jesus was all about- others…relationship. My Hubby often says there are two things that last forever- God’s Word and people. So we should spend a great deal of effort investing in those things.:). Thank you.

  23. 40

    I love the words you shared today. It’s not about me, it’s about others. I’ve felt that way regarding a lot of things in my life lately. “No one is reading my blog”, “It’s my time, I don’t wanna…” It’s all about focusing outside ourselves and serving Him. Beautifully written and very poignant to me. Thank you. :)

  24. 41

    I echo so many of the same sentiments above – I’ve been wondering for months if anyone is reading my blog, if I should give up my contribution of writing all together, if any of my “dreams” will ever come true. Recently God has brought to my attention that for right now I need to draw my dreams a little more down to earth- I need to be on my knees praying for my family, and carving out much more time to spend in prayer with Him and His word so that I even have something to write about. You can’t get water from a dry well.

    Thanks for this encouragement to refocus on the here and now, and to look for ways to minister outside of my own self focus and give back to others.

  25. 42
    Velda Truitt says:

    Simply love this devotion and finding it more true every day, that it is not about us, but others! Thanks for the reminder!

  26. 43

    Wonderful encouragement, Jennifer.

  27. 44

    As my mom used to sing: jesus and others and you, what a wonderful way to spell JOY. But, you draw the curtains back a little more and see that we are making deposits of truth and joy in the kingdom, in the hearts of others, when we participate in other-centric living. I loved this little bit of encouragement today and will keep my eyes (and heart) open to opportunity.

  28. 45

    Thank you so much for this post! I needed to read it today. Sometimes I do feel invisible, especially during those days when my life is all about the dirty diapers, dry oatmeal in my hair, milk spit ups all over my leggings and slippers, feeding, nursing, preschool notes, etc… I know it’s all important, but sometimes I wonder, “when is it my turn to matter out there in the world”? Your post gave me hope that God is at work, beyond what I can actually “see”. Thanks!

  29. 46

    I recently made the decision not to pursue an opportunity that would have offered a lot in the way of impact. I’ve questioned my decision repeatedly, but I know that my reasons are sound, and my focus needs to remain small right now. Your words remind me that I have purpose here, today, with these people and this passion. However small it may seem. Thank you, Jen for sharing your story:)

  30. 47

    I like how you said, you were available. Present. Others focused. Present is my word for the year. Available is a good place to start.

  31. 48

    Thank you so much. I needed to be reminded to just “be” in His presence and to be used, even when I don’t know how He’s using me.

  32. 49

    Your words made me cry. Thank you! :)

  33. 50
    Sandra Wiltzer says:

    Preparing For Battle is the Bible study I’m currently involved with and today’s lesson..? PRAYER TARGETS: finding and admitting my personal area of weakness, you know the things I choose to dwell on and either beat myself up over or pity myself about , then turn that around and think of someone else who may be dealing with that same weakness and pray for THEM INSTEAD! GENIOUS AND FrOM GOD! Then I read yours and get the affirmation I obviously needed to hear.OTHERS!!! Thank you and my God continue to bless you and us in return :)

  34. 51

    Thanks so much for this today. I was feeling so very insignificant. He knows every, sparrow, right?

  35. 52

    This quote is beautiful – During my invisible moments, God used me. Thank you!

  36. 53

    Wow, Jennifer, this brought tears to my eyes. This is the same place I have been recently. Wondering if any of the words I share online matter to anyone. Then, a new friend approached me and told me how much my writing has helped her. Today, I went to join another new friend as her husband prepares for his year-long deployment. It’s the greatest relief when we put others first. We weren’t meant to be self-focused. Thank you for sharing this. It means more than I can say.

  37. 54

    Jen,
    Thank you for this post. I am a part of a new blogging project called http://www.liveintheround.com. With all the expectations and pressures that come with a new site (even those I’ve created for myself), already I need to lesson to slow down and remember that God is using this for others.

  38. 57

    Hello,

    A friend of mine forwarded me this post after she and I had a long discussion yesterday about blogging. I’m just getting going and feeling overwhelmed and insignificant in a VERY saturated market, but your words were and are powerful. It never has been about me, it won’t ever be about me. It’s about others. I love this! Thank you for sharing, thank you for putting yourself out there. It truly does reach others, and it’s God’s platform.

    Sincerely,

    Heather

  39. 58

    Such beauty in the small insignificant moments. Today I was the recipient of one of those–an email from a friend who used her words to encourage.
    Sometimes it feels as if no one is listening and then God surprises me with a note from a friend.
    Words do matter.
    Our words. Your words.
    Even the “least of these” have words that matter.

    Thank you for yours!
    Sara
    Poets and Saints Blog
    New Post: Living Like Time is Short
    http://poetsandsaints.com

  40. 59

    I love that you chose the word “Others” how fitting in servitude to the Lord! Bless you and yours!

  41. 60
    Amy Littrell says:

    I love this – I’ve been searching to find God’s plan for my life and beating myself up because I don’t “do” anything special for Him. He used your message today to remind me that “being” is as important as “doing.” I pray that He will help me be present today with the people He brings into my life, whether it’s a passing encounter or a deep conversation with one of my boys (like that will ever happen :) ). Ultimately, it’s not about what we do, but what God does as His spirit flows through us. Thank you for sharing your words of encouragement!

  42. 61

    Jenn,

    I just read you beautiful words and they deeply resonated in my heart. Thank you for sharing this.
    God Bless You!

  43. 62

    Great story and great perspective. I love how God is using you to touch lives. Lord, use us to reach others! That’s what it’s all about. You, Jesus. (Bless you, Jennifer.)

  44. 63
    Beth Williams says:

    Jen,

    I notice that I can have little “pitty parties” when it’s all about me. But when I change my focus from me to others I realize how insignificant my problems truly are. Love the part about being present and others focused. I want to be more intentional in that area of my life. When I do that my attitude is much better!

    My husband praises me for being concerned about others no matter what. If I hear of something I will immediately pray about it. If I can I will do some small act of kindness for that person.

    Blessings :)

  45. 64

    What an encouragement! Others….it’s so important to remember this life is not about me. Thanks for the reminder! I’m fairly new to your blog and love it! :-)

  46. 65

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I pray that I would be freed from ‘the bondage of self’ (a term from AA reading material) as often as I pray for God’s presence to be revealed to me and the answers arrives when you so very poignantly expressed a question…or even just smiling at another…a stranger…a fellow child of God…

    “Do I purpose in my heart to look to the interest of just one other person each day? One stranger with whom to interact? One lonely woman hiding in her cubical? We never know the impact that exchange might have.”

    Deona

  47. 66

    Thanks so much for the encouragement Jen! Recently I have just been caught up in wanting to do something big for the Lord, wanting to go out and “find my calling/ identity” and “be out there”, and the truth is that God uses the mundane for His glory! And that I and we don’t have to have some fancy job or be doing some really cool thing to be used by the Lord.
    “…God chose what the world counts weak to put its strong things to shame, and God chose what the world counts poor and insignificant… “ 1 Corinthians 1:28

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