Have you ever felt like a “Just”? “I’m just the custodian.” “I’m just the sound guy.” “I’m just a Sunday School teacher.” “I’m just a Sandwich Artist at Subway.”
It’s easy to feel that way sometimes, almost as if what we are or what we’re doing in life is of no value whatsoever. It doesn’t seem like anything you do adds to anybody’s life, and you start to question where you went wrong.
I wonder if Stamp Lady ever felt that way.
Stamp Lady was a woman who lived across the yard from me with her husband. You see, in the apartment complex I lived in, each apartment had a sliding glass door on the back that led to a fairly thin stretch of yard that ran between the two rows of apartments. Stamp Lady’s apartment was directly across from mine.
She was an older woman, about in her 60s, who crafted as a hobby. One day, she noticed us kids at home and invited us over to join her in stamping. Oh what fun it was to make little cards, stamp an image onto the front, and put embossing power on it to make the ink rise up!
And oh what joy it was to have an adult who was friendly and felt I was important enough to spend time with me!
Stamp Lady didn’t know was that I wasn’t supposed to be outside. She didn’t know that I lived in an abusive home and that I wasn’t allowed to go outside in the daytime otherwise people would realize that I also wasn’t allowed to go to school. Or did she?
If she did, it made no difference to her. Each day that my father left and I opened the back door she would beckon me over, offer me tea and ask if I wanted to stamp. She would ask me about my favorite things, let me use her fancy crafting tools, and treated me like a granddaughter.
One day my older sister took a dare from the neighborhood kids and jumped into the creek behind the apartment complex along with a few others. When she went home to shower she discovered a leech on her leg. She panicked because she didn’t know how to get it off, but also because it would be proof that we went outside that day. I ran across the yard to ask Stamp Lady and her husband for help. Against my sister’s will (she was scared of getting in trouble) Stamp Lady and her husband took her to the hospital. It’s a good thing they did because heaven knows what would have happened if they didn’t. Unfortunately, all hell broke loose that night in our home.
That’s the night I think Stamp Lady found out for sure about our life. But once again, as each day passed she never treated us differently, with the exception of more love. I could see how much they wanted to help us, but since the police never believed us, nothing could be done. Every time they were called it just got worse, so we learned to stop trying. Stamp Lady and her husband couldn’t help us that way, but they could help us in the one way they knew how–offering love at any opportunity.
We were eventually rescued. I never got to say goodbye to Stamp Lady. Truthfully I don’t even remember her name. But she changed my life in ways she never knew. She didn’t know that she was the only person in that chapter of my life that made me feel loved. She didn’t know, each day as she let this little girl across the yard come into her home, that she was making a difference.
She was “just” the Stamp Lady, afterall.
What “just” are you?
I once had “just a Sunday School teacher” who prayed with me at the altar every service and who became a mom figure to me when my mother left and moved across the country. She was also “just” a newlywed and also “just a 20-something”. She didn’t know she was the world to this scared little girl who came to church every week.
I had another “just a Sunday School teacher” who gave me a Bible when I was little. That Bible was my prized possession, the thing that replaced my teddy bear when I went to sleep each night, and the thing that gave me hope through all my dark days.
There was “just a man taking a walk” who passed me on a sidewalk one day when I was 12 and said, “Why are you walking with your head down? Life’s not that bad, is it?” I’ve never walked with my head down since.
There were “just two men” who donated blood back in 2000, which was used to save my life during an emergency blood transfusion.
There was “just a history teacher” in my high school who told me I needed to find a church when I told him that yes, I was a Christian, but no, I didn’t go to church. I listened to his advice and my world changed forever as I gave my life fully to God.
There was “just a preacher and his wife” who took me in when I was a teenager. They gave me the family I dreamed of for so long.
There was “just an evangelist” who once told me, “I’m proud of you. I love you.” He didn’t know that I prayed just the week before that God would show me that someone in the world felt that way about me.
There was “just a pastor and his wife” who once said, “We believe in you” at a time when I wanted to give up. I kept going.
There was “just a guy” who came and sat next to me on the bleachers at a youth convention softball game, who was grumpy at the moment, who would three years later become my husband.
What “just” are you? Are you “just” a somebody who’s trying to make it in this world? Who wants to make some impact? Are you feeling discouraged because you feel like nothing you do is worthwhile? Look around you. You may be changing somebody’s life and not even know it. You are more valuable than you know, and you have more to offer than you know.
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” -Matthew 25:40