M.A.D. On rocks, two seventh grade boys emphatically inscribed those initials. M.A.D. Make a difference. My friend Evan and I began searching for true impact and real life as arrogant — but thoughtful — 13-year-olds. It is my first known memory of that increased-heart-beat feeling that NOW always attaches itself to this thought.
Impact. Life change. M.A.D.
Although specifics of how and what vary, everyone dreams of M.A.D. At some point, I truly believe that every person considers the kind of impact they will leave behind. My M.A.D. thought is that I dream of people uniting under the DREAMS of God. As people get to know the REAL Jesus Christ, they will come to know a man who desires to give family and community to broken families; a man who feeds the hungry and spreads wealth to the poor; a man who knows that real life is not found in consumerism and materialism; a man who partied and prayed, laughed and cried, fought and loved; a man who wept over disease, refused violence, and taught about how everything the WORLD told you was true was actually upside-down to the kind of WORLD that God dreamed about.
Writing, reading, praying, dreaming of how people could unite under these same DREAMS – well, my heart beats uncontrollably.
But how hard it is to M.A.D.? We all want to have this deep, wide, & profound impact; therefore, how hard is it to just concentrate on M.A.D. one act at a time? How hard it is to not have this special elixir of immediate life change in your back pocket for the kid who comes and says his life isn’t worth living or for the family who doesn’t have a father?
Then this concept of “place-sharing” was introduced to me by Dr. Andrew Root, author of “Revisiting Relational Ministry.” Basing his concepts on the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Root made a point to say that our REAL impact comes in relationship with one another. When you or I encounter one another and proceed to alter the internal and external data of our being, that’s when Jesus is realized. To make an impact, I don’t NEED to maintain an end goal of getting you to know Jesus Christ. My goal is to share the place of life with you. When someone says, I’m hurting & my life is broken – I say, I feel your suffering, I’ll walk WITH you, I’ll pray WITH you, and I’ll suffer WITH you. I don’t have the ANSWER, but I will share in your story and together, we will confront the pain and suffering you feel. That’s Jesus in reality. Patient, understanding, & just wanting to get to know you with no end goal in mind to make it “worth it.”
Of course, there are a few things that make place-sharing unique from just a connection. For instance, a true relationship demands judgment and confrontation. Therefore, we MUST be able to persuade the youth from dealing with things that lead to dehumanization. Anything that makes them less human (sex, drugs, other spirituality dealings, cutting, etc.), we must confront within that relationship. Also, we discover our own limitations when we come up against the barriers of another. Therefore, when dealing with youth, we must inform them of their unique gifts, worth, and abilities from within that relationship. But that only happens when we have a comparison or a relationship to mold that from.
I want to acknowledge how hard it is to be patient, to not make an immediate impact, and to simply let life unfold while sharing the place of youth and other people. What if my life only impacted the life of ONE other person? Was it worth it? Consciously, I know the answer, but I’m trying to wrestle that concept from my brain to my heart.
M.A.D. Patience. Place Sharing. We need a little bit of each…
May God give us the dreams to increase our heart rates, the patience to endure the results, and the intentional mind to share the place of life with others!