Over the past 5 weeks, I’ve gone through 1 jar of peanut butter, half a jar of strawberry jam and 2 Jumbo bottles of Nutella. I wouldn’t call it stress eating, but I wouldn’t call it a healthy habit either. See, I am a muncher. I like snacking when I am in my work zone. I like peanut butter with apples and bananas and I like my Nutella with a spoon. I really like Nutella. And two jars later, there’s still a lot of work to do and no Nutella left.
I am here working with the vocational aspect of our ministry with Mission Lazarus. Our program educates and trains young men in leather craftmanship, and the beautiful products they made are sold as a sustainable form of revenue to keep the ministry running. This is social enterprise at its best.
On the business side of things, a lot of gears have been turning, things finally clicking into place. We have a calendar of production up and running, so close to finishing the inventory of all material parts, our purchase order system is running smoothly. These are all new measures installed within the past three months of me being here and its really rewarding to see the fruit bearing. There are new prototypes in the works, a relationship with a supplier developing, the materials management system struggling to hang on. But we are making it. And we are doing it with significantly less stress than we were before we had these operations in place.
It has been challenging. Coming into this project, I thought I knew what the situation would look like, but I couldn’t have anticipated the depth of the many areas that needed attention. And it felt like I was transported to the bottom of the deep deep hole, trying to dig my way out in the dark without a flashlight or ladder. My task-oriented, goal-focused, driven-self started making to-do lists, assigning tasks to different days. But as I worked on a task, I realized the situation was much more complicated that I had thought, that it would take A LOT longer to organize these leather storage closets than I thought. That it would be nearly impossible to KEEP them organized unless I was personally maintaining it week to week. That we couldn’t communicate about the organization process if we weren’t calling leather swatches by the name same. That this one item of my list actually had 5 or 6 parts buried within itself, requiring a week (or more) to actually be completed.
I remember walking back home after a long day of cleaning out the workshop, with dirty hands and a heavy heart. I hadn’t finished the task I set out to do that morning, even after 6 hours of working on it. I had lost my peace. This happens to us more often than not, right? We base our value on the work we get done, the number of hours in our schedule occupied by the obligations of clubs/family/school/work/internship/extracurriculars/you name it. We compete in our conversations over who is busier and has the least amount of free time, because the length of our to-do list and the number of items crossed off represents our worth in the world, because busyness equals success, right?
Wrong. Success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. And purpose is the reason something is done, created or exists. And we exist to serve our God to the best of our capabilities day in and day out. Sometimes our best is cleaning out the leather workshop’s closet for 6 hours, leaving it half-finished and walking home with dirty hands. If I did the best I could with the time I was given, it was success in the eyes of my God. And that day, I did give my best. I really did.
Your best IS good enough.
When we rise from our beds, God already knows the amount of work we will achieved for His glory in that day: “all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16). Be affirmed in your worth through His eyes, and set yourself to the task of the day with all you have. And if you finish, great; and if you don’t, great. It will still be there tomorrow.
I’m writing about this because I need it. I am staring down the pike at my last days here. In one month, it will be a Monday and I will be in Nashville hopefully eating a donut. My opportunities to improve our vocational program will be gone, or made much more difficult because I won’t be side by side with the students or our program coordinator, I won’t be in it with them. And we still have a lot to do. I outlined the list of tasks left for us to accomplish and it seems impossible. And that feels disheartening. BUT when God formed me before I breathed life, He already knew what would transpire this summer. I could make all the lists in the world, but He will have me accomplish exactly what this ministry needs, nothing more and nothing less. To believe it’s up to me to do it all is selfish, it’s not trusting of the power and almighty hand of our Father or its plan. It’s not truth. Mission Lazarus is God’s ministry to God’s people in Honduras, and I get the opportunity to play a role under His authority and guidance. I just want to be useful and if I can do that with a jar of Nutella, even sweeter.