Relevancy

Last week I invited my sophomore class over to my room to bake bread. As I later recounted the experience to my mom, I told her about how it had been pretty stressful to have so many people in such tight quarters, sitting around a toaster oven that was reluctant to brown the dinner rolls that had refused to rise. Adding to my frustration was the very large student who had parked himself right in front of my bedroom door and refused to move even an inch or two out of the way each time I needed to fetch something from the kitchen. Because of his developmental delay, he often does little schoolwork and just draws pictures or tries to make the other students laugh. That day I caught him eating salt straight from the container. As I expressed my frustration to my mom, I exclaimed—and I am SO not proud of this comment, “He’s just like a lump!” And I explained how he usually just sat there and did nothing. But later that day my words echoed in my mind, “He’s just like a lump—a lump—a lump,” and I realized something very significant, a reflection revealing enough that it almost redeems that terrible comment.

I realized that one of my biggest fears is being seen as a lump. Especially my first two years here, but in my third year too, there are still many things I can’t do well and it’s difficult for me to participate to others’ and my own satisfaction. I go to meetings and sit through sermons that I can’t understand. I am never asked to pray in formal settings because it’s obvious that I can’t (at least not spontaneously in Korean). I don’t have any special role in the community outside of teaching. And so in many ways, when I compare my usefulness to the usefulness of others and my contributions to the contributions of others, I feel rather meaningless, like a lump. What am I here for? What can I do? How do others perceive me? Do they think I’m just a lump, irrelevant and in the way? Heaven forbid! And suddenly I realized that many of my actions, rather than being motivated by pure love, are driven by this worry that I am not naturally relevant but must make myself so, if not to convince others then to convince myself.

When I finally lit upon this idea, I was set free by the fact that it is God’s fingerprint on me that makes me relevant. It is nothing I do, nothing I say, no position of leadership, no responsibility, no respect from others, that essentially defines my relevance. It is enough that God created me and loves me. Who could be more relevant than a child of the Most High God? And at the same time that I was set free of my burden to somehow attain relevancy, I was also brought to my knees. For how could I have judged my student as irrelevant simply because he failed to meet my standard of performance and behavior? How could I have judged his relevancy according to my own standard, when he has the same innate relevancy in Christ which had just set me free?

The chorus to “Who Am I?” by Casting Crowns is quite relevant (hehe) to this theme:
Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are

And I think Matthew 11:28-30 could also apply:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I am relevant, and so are you. Regardless of your talents, your marital status, your job (or lack thereof), the money in your bank account, your SAT score, your age, your health, the length of your “to-do” list, or the number of friends you have on Facebook (or in your address book, Grandma). We are all relevant because of the God who made us, loves us, and paid the price to redeem us. Hope this truth lightens your load today.