When I read this quote from Bob Goff, I chuckled to myself and thought “Exactly!” If you read my post last week about calling and purpose, you know that I tried to say something similar but it took me about 750 additional words to do so. (The story of my life 🙂 )
If you haven’t done so already, please go back and read last week’s post so you know what the heck I’m talking about today. This is Part 2.
The quote above and our discussion about calling made me think of my friend, Chris Bailey.
Fourteen years ago, Chris decided on a whim to take some of his son’s unused toys to a low-income housing project in Ft. Worth, Texas. He had so much fun bringing smiles to the faces of his new friends, he began returning regularly with food, toys and other donations, often running through the drive-through at the local fast food place to buy multiple bags of tacos to drop off on the way to his next meeting. After 14 years of cultivating this relationship, Chris now leads an army of others each year who want to bless his friends at the Butler Housing Project, arriving mid-December dressed as Santa with a giant truckload of bikes, toys and food.
Last summer, after the shooting of two police officers in Dallas, Chris was overwhelmed by the increasing hate and tension he saw bubbling up on social media, so he went to Walmart, made a sign and stood on a street corner telling people to love each other. His accidental movement went viral and you can read more about it on the Every Love Everybody website. As of today, the ELE Facebook page has over 58,000 members from all over the world, each committed to showing up in their corner of the world with kindness and generosity, encouraging and inspiring others to do the same. If you are on FB, I encourage you to join the group and become part of this community’s mission of love. The stories shared regularly make me cry. Chris is my hero in many ways.
Let me tell you the thing I find particularly compelling and personally challenging about Chris’s story: although he acts more like Jesus than many of us who call ourselves Christians, Chris identifies himself as an atheist.
While he may not use the word “calling” to describe his lifestyle of generosity and service, Chris reminds us that living life with a sense of greater purpose is not the exclusive territory of those who acknowledge God as the source of the mysterious something that compels them to act. As I have been wondering about this idea of calling, I thought of Chris, his powerful mission and the impact he is having on the world. I reached out to him over the weekend to ask him about why he does what he does. Here is the question I asked:
“If this passion you feel for feeding hungry people and enlisting strangers in your mission of love didn’t come from God, where did it come from? What drives you?”
Chris says he is driven by “a vision of a better me. When I help people and treat people better, I am a better person.” For Chris, his crusade to love others well is part of moving closer to the self he aspires to be, his unique path to becoming his best self.Perhaps our calling is finding the way we love others best that also brings out the best in us. Click To Tweet
So if we too find a vision of our better self compelling, how do we figure out what our better self looks like?
People of faith believe human beings were created in the image of God- Imago Dei. In Genesis 1:27, we find the following:
So God created human beings in His own image.
In the image of God He created them;
male and female He created them.
People who find wisdom in these ancient texts believe we are born infused with the moral, spiritual and intellectual nature of God. We have within us the capacity to love generously and be creative forces in our world; it is in our DNA. However, because our Creator gave us free will, we also have the choice to turn our backs on that part of ourselves. In a world filled with brokenness, the image of God often gets buried beneath the rubble of messiness, conflict and hurt. Whether a conscious choice or a consequence of external circumstances, we sometimes struggle to maintain connection to our better self, the part of us made in the image of God. We forget who we are and who we want to be. The Gospel message tells us Jesus provides the path home.
So back to our exploration of calling. As we discussed last week, my daughter finds inspiration in finding ways to love others that feels most natural. My friend Chris is driven by a vision of his best self. Perhaps finding a purpose or calling which energizes us and makes us feel alive includes at least these two things:
- loving others in the way we love best.
- acting more like the person we want to be.
But what else? What other clues should we be watching for on the path to our calling? I REALLY want to hear your answers in the comments!
Bumping up against my 800 word (ok, more like 900) self-imposed limit, so I’m going to leave us here for today. Huge thanks to Chris for allowing me to share our conversation here. While we may disagree about where his vision for his better self originates, I’m crazy about him and want to be more like him when I grow up. (And don’t tell him I said so, but I am pretty certain Jesus is crazy about him too. 🙂 ) Love you, mean it, Chris!