"Being chosen is the greatest gift you can give another person." These were words spoken by my Pastor in her sermon this past Sunday. It made me think how being chosen has impacted my life. What did that thinking it lead to? I thought how my parents chose to bring me into this world, to love me, to care for me and to support me while I was growing up. I thought about being a kid and someone picking me to be on their team. I thought about when I received my acceptance letters from Bethel University and Bethel Seminary, they chose me! I thought about the day when those in charge of Open Hands offered me the chance to work here, they chose me! I thought about the day the Open Hands Board of Directors voted their approval to have me be the next Director of Open Hands, they chose me! Being chosen makes a person feel valued. I also thought about people that society does not chose because they are 'different'.
I want to tell you about my own experience of not being chosen because someone saw me as different. I was in elementary school. For whatever reason I befriended another girl in my class that was really shy. For the next 7 years we were best friends. Now I am not sure if it was my association with her or what but older kids saw the two of us as 'different'. We were picked on, bullied if you will, on the playground and walking home from school. I cannot tell you how many snowballs hit me in the back of the head, how many times my heart raced in fear when I spotted those kids. All I knew was I wanted more than anything to be safe at home where they couldn't get to me. It hurt, sometimes to the point where I would cry and pretend I was sick begging my Mom to let me stay home from school. Finally, when I was in 5th grade it all came to a boil. I don't remember if she went to house of these kids or called their parents but things changed. These kids had older siblings and one day when I walked out of my house to make the two block walk to school, there were the older siblings. They told me they were going to walk with me to school and that if their siblings picked on me again I should tell them. Well I won't go into extensive detail but I will tell you the happiest day of my life was when those kids moved on to middle school and I was free of them once and for all. Those years changed me in a way that wouldn't surface until I was much older. But when it did surface, I found myself drawn to the quieter kids, those who others did not chose, and I chose them.
At Open Hands we chose to chose those that often would be chosen last, the marginalized of society. We uphold the values of Open Hands which are: Everyone is welcome; love changes people; everyone has a gift to share; all things are possible. These all speak, I believe, of being chosen. In the Gospel of Matthew, Christ says, "Whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
I challenge you to think about being chosen, about the experiences you have had like the one from my childhood and how it has impacted you to chose someone. I am grateful for the chance to work for Open Hands, a place that has freely chosen others and hopefully gives them the greatest gift they have ever received, the gift of being chosen.