Thursday, March 26, 2015

I AM, I am not

My husband and I moved from the South Carolina upstate to Walterboro almost eighteen years ago. It was my husband’s job that brought us here; that and the call of God on our lives. I left behind a career and came here with no job. No friends. No family. And really, no idea.

During the first five years here, I had difficulty finding my lowcountry self and where I fit in.  I made the rounds in volunteer positions at church. I looked for employment. At one of those early job interviews, I walked into a room where a committee of five or six people sat in a semi-circle facing one lone, empty chair. Before I ever even sat down in that chair, one of the committee members said, “Well, if you’re from Walterboro how come I don’t know who you are?” Immediately, I knew the interview was over before it even started. To be from somewhere else and not be known is one thing, but to be from here and not be known was a travesty to them. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.

I was trying to find myself and my place here and all I really found was failure and disappointment. That is, until I finally figured out that finding myself wasn’t really what I needed. Instead, I needed to be losing myself. I needed to get busy doing something for someone else rather than focusing on myself. 

 Since then I’ve done a lot of pro bono work for several individuals and business organizations throughout the community. I’ve done some graphic design work. I’ve written a few things. And you know what happens when you’re willing to do something just because someone else needs you to? You sit at your computer working on it and before you realize it, hours have passed. You lose yourself.

The apostle Paul had that figured out. He learned it from Jesus and talks about it in Chapter 2 of Ephesians: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

A few verses later, Paul talks about the results of Jesus doing just that. His name was made greater than every other name, so much so that all the knees in heaven and earth will be bent in reverence. Jesus lost himself in his work for others and the result is that every single soul not only will know his name but will also worship it. In the gospel of John, the name Jesus is identified by is I AM.  He says of himself, “I AM the bread of life.” “I AM the light of the world.” “I AM the way, the truth, and the life.” John also describes Jesus as THE WORD. 

I’m sitting at my computer typing this and when I finish, I will email it to the editor. I don’t usually have a need to visit the Press and Standard office in person. Last week, however, I went there to tend to some business that had absolutely nothing to do with this column. I walked in and introduced myself to the employee at the front desk and explained my reason for being there. While I was standing at the front counter, the sound of a booming bass voice came from further back in the office. It was Drew Tripp and he asked me if I was the same Nancy Davis that had written the recent columns for the Faith page. I confirmed that I was and he asked me for a minute of my time. Apparently there had been some in-house discussion there about what the tag should be at the end of my column; the info about who I am and how I can be contacted. I don’t think I had ever met Drew in person before, nor Brantley Strickland either. I have seen their names and pictures in the paper and I follow them on social media, but we’ve never been formally introduced. They don’t really know me and therefore weren’t sure about what to say about me.

I’ve been in Walterboro nearly twenty years and there are people who still don’t know who I am. Sure, there are more people in Walterboro who know me now than there were at the time of that dreadful job interview, but a whole new generation has been born since then. This new crowd of people gives me even more opportunities to lose myself in doing things for and serving them. Maybe they will see THE WORD in my words. They may not know who I am, but maybe they will catch a glimpse of I AM. 

This was originally posted September 21, 2014 on The Press and Standard's website: 

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