We're Just Ordinary People
By Leanna Browne
I feel like this year has me questioning a lot of things so far - What am I really doing (in the fight for liberation)? Is Servant Year actually making an impact? How is the work I am doing really contributing to liberation? More importantly, what is the goal of our work? I could go on and on with questions, but I'll pause here. I guess my inquisitive nature as a child is revealing itself (perhaps because it never left). As Servant Year members, though we earn modest stipends, we are provided with comforts. For example, we are all given places to live, placements to provide us with an enriching experience, mentors to help support us in our professional and/or spiritual journeys, small group meetings to help create communities outside of our houses, monthly speaker series to engage us in discussions around relevant topics, formation opportunities to develop spiritually, etc. I'd say we are pretty protected by all these benefits. I think to an extent it can become easy (and safe) to become insulated by these comforts and become complacent. To bask in the privileges we have been afforded. But, if we say we care about issues that affect marginalized populations, shouldn’t we be questioning and re-examining how our lives reflect that on a daily basis? Asking ourselves – Are we really about that life? The life I’m talking about is really pursuing liberation, like Jesus did. I think this is where humility is vital.
What does it mean to be humble? According to Google’s dictionary, it means having or showing a modest or low estimate of one's own importance. I don’t think being humble means thinking so lowly of one’s self to the point of self-deprecation. But, I think being humble means recognizing that you are but one person. You don’t have all the skills and knowledge to do everything and are willing to step back to listen and learn from others. As was brought to my attention in the first Wednesday morning devotion done in our office, John Neafsey writes in A SACRED VOICE IS CALLING: Personal Vocation and Social Conscience, “Whether we are a doctor or a minister, an artist or a taxi driver, a nanny or a teacher, our fundamental human vocation is to become just, loving, and humble persons during our short lives here on this earth” (5). Just, loving, and humble persons. Sounds a lot like Jesus, right?
1 Peter 5:6-7 (NLT) says, “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” I see this as saying that God calls us to humility. How can we work alongside those seen as subaltern, if we are up so high in our places of privilege? But, God also opens himself up to us because we can’t pursue humility (or life in general) alone. I realize that there will be moments when I am cynical about things going on in the world. There will be moments when I question what’s the point of fighting for liberation when it all feels like too much. But, I have to remember that the acts of ordinary people together can be monumental.
Leanna serves in the DIOPA Office of Family and Young Adult Ministry.