"I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
...I will not refuse to do the something I can do."
I read that quote from Helen Keller in high school and it struck a chord within me. Even at 17, in my infinite adolescent stupidity, I knew that those words had power, so I committed them to memory and determined that this would be my life's motto.
Over the years, I've tried to hold true to that commitment. I've logged countless volunteer hours in my life and given much of myself to many causes: victims of rape, battered women, the elderly, children, orphans, the sick, disadvantaged youth, etc. Because so often, when I come face-to-face with a situation in which there is little or no hope, where despair lingers, this quote wafts through my mind and I am convicted--I have to do something, no matter how small.
And let me tell you, most of my somethings have been really small. I'm not Mother Teresa. I don't have a legion of volunteers to command or the megabucks of Bill Gates. I hold hands; I offer words of comfort; I make sandwiches; I hand out blankets; I clean; I teach; I listen; I buy t-shirts. Small stuff.
But here's the funny thing--God does AMAZING THINGS with my small stuff. I am tiny, but He is so, so big. He accomplishes things I never would have dreamed of with my meager talents and time.
I hear people all the time say things like, "The orphan problem in Africa is so big, so complex, nothing I do will make a difference." "What does it matter if I show up on election day? My one vote doesn't count." "The sex trade is a multi-billion-dollar industry, there is no way that my $10 donation will ever make a difference toward sex trafficking."
And you know what? You are probably right. By yourself, your one contribution won't amount to much in the face of a large problem.
BUT...You aren't alone. You aren't by yourself.
Each of us is like a single thread: fragile, weak, easily broken or carried away in the wind. We bend according to the breeze and can hold little weight on our own. A single thread isn't all that valuable on it's own.
But, lucky for us, we aren't destined to live our lives singularly. Other threads line up beside us, supporting us, bearing the weight we cannot hold on our own. Others still cross our path, intersecting our lives briefly, yet somehow their strength is intertwined with our own, the intersection of our collective experience binding us into the colorful blanket of humanity. Woven together by the hands of a skillful Craftsman, a loving God who knows our singular weakness, collectively we are strong, and we can achieve much--providing warmth to the cold, protection to the tender skin of a baby, and comfort to the sick or heartbroken.
Here's the thing: If each of us would just choose to do our something, even if it is really just a tiny something, we could accomplish amazing things together.
I see it daily. I follow the blog Momastery, and yesterday, thousands of women pitched in a few spare dollars, and in a matter of five and a half hours, they had collected over $85,000 dollars to a non-profit for the care of a young teenage mother, to provide housing and food and medical care and LOVE and countless other services to a girl who had no hope. And here's the kicker--the MAXIMUM donation any single person could make was $25. Over 250 people an HOUR jumped on board with their $25 bucks and provided love. A year of care and teaching and shelter. As a result, a young girl suddenly felt like she mattered. She'll be given the tools to care for her baby and herself, but more importantly, she was given hope. That is amazing.
Last year, my small posse of fellow orphan lovers bombarded social media to support Feeding the Orphans, imploring everyone we knew to jump on board and feed some orphans by buying an orphan awareness shirt instead of new clothing at Easter. $20 bucks at a time, we raised over $10,000 last year. This year, we've already surpassed that goal and come within spitting distance of our 2013 goal of $13,000. Whole churches are signing up, hundreds of people leaving behind frilly Easter clothes and instead choosing to dress with a purpose. But we can't stop yet!! We have weeks until Easter, weeks!! We can still do more! More babies can be fed, more lifesaving medicine provided. We can create hope in a child who until now has only known despair, rejection, and hunger.
No, my $20 bucks won't do much to make a difference. But our $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 CAN do amazing things. So please, please...don't refuse to do your something.
Buy a shirt. Tell your friends. Do your something.