Do you know what I find overwhelming sometimes? Everything. Some days, I think about everything, and everything is much too much for one day.
Keeping the house picked up (“dusted” doesn’t even enter into the equation), the laundry folded, the dishes clean, the bills paid, and food on the table… overwhelming.
Decisions about what to feed my kids, their medical care, their discipline, their education… overwhelming.
And that’s just inside my home. What about outside my walls, the kids in our city, in every city around the world, who don’t have food to eat, or medical care, or discipline, or education (or even parents to worry about those things)? Every minute there are lives being lost to hunger, exposure, violence, even loneliness. Every minute there are lives being destroyed by wars, drugs, and human trafficking. Human trafficking?! Have we stopped teaching the Golden Rule in kindergarten?
There are people, children, all around us, who believe they are unloved.
This is the tragedy of our time, and just thinking about it enough to type that paragraph is overwhelming, because me sitting here thinking about it isn’t helping anyone, and yet the problems are so vast and the pain is so prevalent that I am paralyzed from action. What, truly, could I possibly do to make a difference?
This is a common mindset, and very often the reason, or perhaps the excuse, we have for doing nothing. Because what would it matter, the little we can do? It is but a drop in the ocean.
Mother Teresa had similar thoughts, but she found the solution:
“I never look at the masses as my responsibility; I look at the individual. I can only love one person at a time – just one, one, one. So you begin. I began – I picked up one person. Maybe if I didn’t pick up that one person, I wouldn’t have picked up forty-two thousand….The same thing goes for you, the same thing in your family, the same thing in your church, your community. Just begin – one, one, one.”
No, there is a very good chance that today, you will not be able to tell a desolate orphan child that you love her and hand her a piece of bread and a cup of water and secure for her a home and a future. But perhaps that is not the place that you and I are to begin. We begin by making sure that when our own children wake up, the first thing they hear is that we love them. So we’ve begun.
Often we are discouraged because we want to help but we simply don’t know what to do, and we don’t know what to do because we don’t know what the people near us need. So let’s begin by actually getting to know our families or our neighbors well enough to recognize their needs. We don’t have to travel the world to save it.
Most people in the modern world have heard of Mother Teresa, and if they know nothing else about her, they probably know that she helped a lot people. She is now famous for taking care of people, and she helped thousands upon thousands of people by not being overwhelmed by the masses, by not being paralyzed by the enormity of the job, but by seeing and helping one individual. She began with one.