A Lesson in the Milk—Yes, the Milk!
Have you ever talked yourself out of your own brilliance or simply talked your way out of why you’ve been positioned to do something and ended up not doing it? Every time we do so, we say, “No” to a divine plan that seeks to use our light for reasons beyond our immediate knowledge. Between marginalizing the circumstances and how powerful we are in them, we often take back our offerings before others can receive or utilize them. In God’s humor, I experienced this lesson in a most unsuspecting place—my local Walmart! There we were, both in the cash-out line. I was behind my cart, and she was behind hers with a cute little boy in tow. At first, everything seemed status quo until I noticed the cashier was looking at every item and then verifying if they qualified for the public assistance document presented to pay for them. Not only was it clear this was going to take a while, but the cashier’s frustration was quite noticeable, as well.
Almost in slow motion, I started paying close attention to everything that was happening: the cashier’s frustration quickly turning to disgust, the little boy becoming agitated, and the seemingly quiet woman starting to show signs of feeling humiliated and—worst yet—punished. Then, as if she were waiting all along to do so, the cashier said, “You can’t buy this. This only covers whole milk,” and she put the lady’s two percent milk to the side. My heart sunk, but then something interesting happened: I started debating myself. As deliberate as I am in most things, I started questioning whether to do or not to do. I also wondered if my doing would cause the young woman shame. It was only milk, right? No, it was more. In that moment, I questioned my own light and whether it would be seen, perceived and received as light by another. The only problem was that wasn’t my assignment.
In fact, none of those questions were mine to answer. My only job duty in that moment was the same one you and I are asked to carry out every day: be light, and then give it away! So, as the lady started walking away, I gestured for her to wait, purchased the milk for her and prayed she could feel my compassion and connection. She said, “Thank you,” and I responded, “No, thank you!”
I almost messed it up—I almost let “self” deter my “serve.” When we consider whether we should, if it will make a difference, how it will be received, if it is good enough, if it is good at all, and if someone else can do it, we risk cheating the world of what God gave us to offer. In my case, the issue was never the milk. I soon recognized that it wasn’t just about causing potential shame. But, what if my offer was rejected or misunderstood? I almost missed out on my own blessing—an opportunity to do good!
Can you relate? In the past month, have you talked your way out of sharing your light or backed down from doing something you know you should have? For me, this was just another muscle-building exercise to prepare me for my next request to be light wherever I’m positioned. How about you? No, it’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. The following tips are sure to help:
Resist assaulting yourself with the “Why me?” question – Neither you nor I will ever truly be able to answer that question. Instead, your place of power comes from accepting that it is you asking for God’s guidance and moving into action.
Kick self-doubt to the curb – You know the voices that say you’re not good enough, prepared, the best for, or the best at something? Perspective is everything, and your opinion counts. Don’t abandon your own team. Get out of your own way, and give it your best shot.
Don’t lose focus on your assignment – Sometimes we’re so focused on what people think that we forget the true responsibility rests in the authenticity of the giving. Truthfully, the receiving is rarely in our span of control—that’s all in God’s hands.
Shine brightly – If you’re a witness, you’re being given a choice actually to witness. If you’re there, you have to trust that you’re supposed to be there. So, shine brightly, and let others find shades if the glare is too much for them.