THE OPTIMIST CLUB

I do it for “the one”.

Even if it’s just a moment.

A little can mean a lot.

I will fully admit I am chronically optimistic. The glass is almost always half full in my life. More often than not I am able to find something to be glad about. I’ll also admit, I think I’m quite a bit more pleasant to be around then those who are chronically pessimistic, although I’m sure some would disagree. The reality is that in this world we live in I believe we need a few more people to be chronically optimistic with me. Life is hard, walking with Jesus is hard, and the world is awfully dark. And yet, but still, we serve a good God.

For years now I have asked God for “just one” when I’m speaking. The size of my audience may vary and I have never wanted to get caught up in the numbers or the show so I’ve asked God for one. I don’t need the masses. I just need one person to be the person my message was meant for. If just one person has their life impacted by the words God gives me to speak then my job is done. Whether my audience is 3 or 3000 I only need one. And if God allows one my joy is complete. What if we asked God for one instead of many? What if we grasped the idea that there is no such thing as “only” one but instead there is beauty in the one. I think of the parable of the lost sheep, how the shepherd left the 99 to go after the 1. Friends, when ministry gets hard, when your heart is floundering, and when you want to quit ask God for one, just one.

I’m writing from Guatemala. Today I found myself at an orphanage surrounded by girls and boys who immediately stole my heart. I had the most unique mixture of joy and sorrow in my heart during the hour I was there. Sorrow because they’re orphans and I couldn’t take home the 3 year old who fell asleep in my lap, or the 18 year old who I gave my perfume to, or the 9 year old who growled at me and launched himself laughing off the picnic table. Joy because at least it was a moment. For just a moment I got to shower those precious ones with love. I was able to give kisses and hugs and laughter. For a moment (more like 20 minutes) a little 3 year old slept safely and undisturbed in my lap. For a moment they all had a mama in their life who loved them completely. For just a moment. The likelihood is I will never see any of those kids again. I could mourn or I could rejoice. For a moment I was given the gift of time. For one afternoon in their lives they were showered with love. For a moment. Friends, we need to grab those moment more often we also need to recognize those moments more often. I think we spend far too much time lamenting and not enough time being. Those kids didn’t need or want my lament, they wanted me to be.

The world is dark and life is hard but here’s the deal, light always shines brighter than darkness. In a pitch black space your eye will always seek out light and when it finds it you can’t look away. Like a compass, like an anchor, light draws us in and captures us. The God we serve and point to is light. He is light. Light wins. We can complain and be frustrated about how little time we get to love on kids in our ministry settings or we can grab onto light like it’s water and splash it around every chance we get. Whether our kiddos come regularly or sporadically their exposure to the light can, and will, change them. Our job is to give them light. Friends, let’s spend less time complaining and more time splashing light on everyone we come in contact with. Let’s pray without ceasing to the giver of light, to the God who is more jealous for our kiddos then we could ever imagine.

I’m not a mama and yet I’ll have you know I fully celebrated Mother’s Day this year. Yes, I love my mama and I celebrated her well. I also enjoyed the day for the mama that I am in so many people’s lives. Does that sound arrogant? I certainly hope not. I actually hope you can join me in celebrating yourself. Through the years I have chosen not to lament the fact I don’t have a child who calls me mama but instead be grateful that I get to “mama” for such a time as this in so many kid’s lives. It’s that optimism thing again. As a follower of Christ I’m called to pass on faith and I’m called to love. So, I love the only way I know how, deep and long. And whether it’s for a season or for a lifetime I commit to it. I mama. I spent mother’s day weekend at a college graduation because one of “my kids” asked me to be there. His parents are missionaries in Asia and were unable to make it. Of course I was there. I clapped, cried, and took pictures like any mom should. On mother’s day I text one of “my kids” who lost her mom tragically many years ago. I told her she mattered and that I loved her and that I was proud of her. Also on mother’s day one of “my kids” left me a voice message thanking me for being his spiritual mama. Today I held that little one as she slept and I kissed her head and whispered a prayer over her. I was mama. See what I mean?

Hear me on this friends, we need more optimists. We need more of us who see the moments, the light, the seasons and embrace them for what they are. We need more of us to turn to praise and thanksgiving for what God has given us instead of being stuck looking for more. Will you join me? It’s not easy and we’re not perfect but being an optimist means we recognize there is always an opportunity for more. Let’s do more.
 

Passionate about the church and about kids, Melissa J. MacDonald travels extensively speaking, training, coaching, and consulting. With a fresh and unique perspective Melissa boldly calls the church to be The Church everywhere she goes. She’s been to over 30 countries and seeks out the best ethnic food in every city she visits. Melissa currently serves as the National Children’s Disciplemaking Specialist for the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Find out more at www.melissajmacdonald.com.