Last week was “Spirit Week” at my daughter’s middle school, a week of themed days with the intention of building school spirit and fostering school pride as the days led up to “Green-and-Gold Day” (the wearing of the school’s colors) on Friday, the day that would kick off Homecoming weekend with an afternoon parade in the center of town and an evening football game against–hopefully–a beatable opponent! [Turned out not to be so!]
Having not participated in the “themes” the first three days of the week–Mismatch Day, Twin Day, and Storybook Character Day–my daughter was finally considering having a little fun with Thursday’s theme: “Crazy Hair Day”! “I might do something,” she said, “but I don’t want it to be so crazy that people look at me in the hallways!”
“You should do it! You can be a part of something bigger than yourself!” I wanted to say to my quiet, fairly introverted girl, in the hopes of encouraging her to want to join in the fun of “Spirit Week.” But I kept quiet and let her decide.
The idea, though, of being a part of something bigger than oneself stuck with me, and I continued to think about it, not in relation to my daughter and her participation–or lack thereof!–in Spirit Week but with regard to my own life.
It struck me that I’ve spent most of my life being a part of things bigger than myself. Beginning in infancy, when I was first taken to church in my mother’s arms, I’ve been a part of something, and most of the time, more than one thing, that is bigger than me–the church, 4-H, sports teams, musical groups, faith-based mission groups, and more (not to mention a fairly close-knit extended family with six sets of aunts and uncles, twenty-two first cousins, and more second cousins than I can even count!).
And I have loved all of those things!, Each of those groups has helped to connect me with something outside of and bigger than my own self. At different points in my life all of those “things” have given me a sense of belonging and often, a sense of working toward a greater good. From each of them, I gained a sense of purpose and some sense of identity. It’s good to feel a part of something bigger than yourself, to recognize that you can somehow be more than “just” yourself, to know that you are not alone in the world, that you are a piece of some entity much larger than yourself but that would be diminished in some way were your piece not there…..
After being struck by how much of my life has been spent being a part of things bigger than myself, however, I was somewhat surprised at my next thought, which was something like, “Been there, done that. Not feeling the need for anything like that at the moment.” !!
It may simply be an indication of my ongoing diminished energy levels–but was surprised to realize that I feel absolutely no need, at this moment in time, to belong, or connect, or be a piece of anything “bigger than myself”! My sense of purpose, my sense of identity, my acute sense of not being alone in the world–all of these have actually been deepened and strengthened through this experience with fatigue, which almost seems ironic, as it is the fatigue that has “persuaded” me to step away from all of those larger-than-self entities in which I have for so long participated…..
In this season of my life, I seem to feel a much greater need to keep all of the parts of myself to myself! And I do that, now, knowing that I am still, and always will be, a part of something bigger than myself, with that “something bigger” being Life with God; knowing that my identity continues to be grounded in something larger than me, as I see myself, with that “something larger” being ME, as God sees me and knows me and loves me; and knowing that I am not now–in any way, in any moment, or in any circumstance–nor will I ever be alone in the world, but that I am always, in every time and place and situation, in the Presence of God.
For now, while circumstances prevent me from being an active part of much of anything that is bigger than myself, I know that I remain an integral part of that which is bigger than all of us–the Presence and Love and Life of that Reality which is God.
I guess you don’t have to have mismatched socks or crazy hair to be a part of something bigger than yourself!! 🙂
Thanks be to God! 🙂