The other day, I was driving and in a left turn lane. I noticed a car swerve in the other lane to avoid hitting something on the road. I took a closer look, and my breath stopped — it was a man laying in the middle of the road. A man in the car ahead of me got out and I followed. Together, we carried the man to the sidewalk. By that time, people started to gather. One person called 911. One person covered the man with a jacket. Another attended to a bloody wound and another talked soothingly to the man to keep him calm. Knowing that my job was done, I left so as not to crowd him.
As I drove away, I first felt feelings of inadequacy. My perfectionist side was telling me I should have done more or that I did not do my part well enough. Then I had a thought. I may not have had my phone in my pocket to call 911 or thought to cover the man with a jacket, but that was not the role God had intended for me. He put me there to help get the man to safety. Then, he put other people there to take care of the rest. Separately, each of us would likely not have been able to give the man everything he needed. Together, we were able to use our individual strengths to fill in each other’s gaps and hopefully help get the man on the path towards healing. It was not done perfectly, for we are still human, but we accomplished an incredible task.
When I reflect on this experience, I try to focus not on the trauma but on the good that came out it. God was everywhere. He was in the man who desperately needed help. He was in the drivers who swerved to miss hitting the man. He was in every person who stopped to help a stranger. He brought strangers together as they worked in unison to help one of his beloved children.
I cannot but imagine what life would be like if we lived in that unity and harmony more often. If we always instinctively reacted to help others without first judging them. If we put aside our differences and worked together for God’s good.
Even if we are not facing such intense circumstances, I think about all of the little ways God has shown me this same message of being enough just as we are, thanks to the beauty of collaboration. At my school, I see countless examples of this concept. We have nearly a dozen different roles at our school — therapists, teachers, para-educators, coaches, nurses, administrators, maintenance staff, technicians, the list goes on. Each person has a specific role; some are more visible than are others. Sometimes we have to communicate directly and at other times, our work builds off each other. Some jobs may seem trivial at times and all of them can be overwhelming. Yet, our school would not function as smoothly as it does without each of those people performing their assigned role
We each have a role on this earth and that role changes from situation to situation. I do not always know the role God has intended for me but I know God always has a plan, for me and for you. He has placed us here, at this place and time, for a reason. We may never know the full layout of this plan but God is always working through us for good. The more we keep our eyes out for him in what is around us, the clearer that plan will become. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Provers 3:5-6).
(Jenna Ebener, a graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, is a social worker at a school in Colorado for students with a combination of medical, cognitive and behavior disabilities. She relies on God every day to aid her on this wonderful, yet intense journey.)