Monday, August 20, 2012

It's Not About Me

We shared a booth at the only sit-down restaurant in the row of fast-food giants along the highway not far from where I live. He was eager to share stories in anticipation of his 50th wedding anniversary celebration. I powered up my laptop and prepared to record his musings. I don't share any of his history and only know him as my husband's co-worker; slightly more as we have socialized with him and his wife on a few occasions.

I had agreed to compose a letter from the words he would share with me which a friend of his would read to his wife at the milestone commemoration.  Listening carefully, I tried to capture his voice and use his language to create a document that would express the affection he wanted to relay to her, as well as tease her with his playful exaggeration of specific memories. The assignment was quite fun for me as I heard and recorded how they had met, their short courtship and fast trip to the altar. I wrote up the memento that night. After he suggested a revision or two, he seemed pleased with my  rendition of his narration.  My husband, Kevin, and I planned to attend the celebration two weeks later.

The room was buzzing with conversation when we arrived at the event. Half a century of relationships had gathered to honor the couple and we eased into the circle of work-related guests. After visiting for awhile, attention was called to a stage at one side of the room. Soon the designated reader stepped to the microphone, unfolded the letter and began to read Charlie's sentiments to his bride of 50 years. I listened intently, grimacing when a pause broke the flow of thought where I never had imagined one to be, holding my breath as I anticipated the punch line in the funny parts and tensing my muscles like a spectator at a wrestling match, hoping every next word would be as I had crafted it. I breathed a sigh of relief with the last word of the closing.

On the way home I wondered aloud to Kevin whether I now know how a ghost writer feels. You create something, your skill is used by someone, but you don't receive the credit. The satisfaction isn't in the praise from others, but in knowing the job was done well because it successfully accomplished the purpose it was designed for.

I thought of other life experiences that might be similar: watching your child perform after you spent hours helping them practice their part, planning a surprise birthday party and knowing the work and effort you put into it honored and pleased the one you planned it for, the cook who creates the scrumptious entree dishes you order from a restaurant menu, and the money you give to a good cause, anonymously.  Last Sat. I helped my step-daughter sew a dress for my almost two year old granddaughter, her daughter. Our instruction is often given without expectation of acknowledgement. My reward will be to see little Elika in her new dress at her Elmo- themed birthday party this weekend.

As believers we would do well to remember nothing we do for Him is done in vain, whether we know the outcome or not, or whether we receive praise or not. Just to serve him is privilege! To work alongside the Creator of the universe is big stuff!  There is reward, whether now or later, so let's do it all for him, for the Kingdom, for his glory. Long live the King!

1 Corinthians 15:58

J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
58 And so brothers of mine, stand firm! Let nothing move you as you busy yourselves in the Lord’s work. Be sure that nothing you do for him is ever lost or ever wasted.

Here is the dress Elika will wear.
Here is the blog we were inspired from.

We altered a few things like threading the ribbon through both the front and the back so it would tie on just one shoulder instead of both. We added the Elmo motif that we cut from a kids T-shirt we found at Goodwill.


  1. Reminds me of the statement that we can do great things for God if we don't care who gets the credit. Thank you for sharing this experience.

  2. Such a good lesson I needed to hear; very timely. It's easy to expect appreciation when we do good things, but I have to remember that if I'm doing everything as unto the Lord anyway, why do I need a pat on the back from anyone else? Great post.

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  4. I love this! It's interesting because working on the magazine project that I told you about is like being a ghost writer in some ways and I'm choosing to be good with it. So what you wrote is very timely and applicable to my own life right now.... its not about us and the recognition we receive. So glad our conversation moved to creative writing yesterday so that I could find out about your blog!


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