A couple nights ago, I went to an event called “A Night of Ministry” just down the street from me, which was packed out with 5,000 women and some awesome dudes, featuring a few incredibly gifted women leaders who are famous in the Christian world (so if you don’t live in Church Land like I do, you don’t know/care/are not impressed by who they are).
These women are the type who are running hard and making a huge difference – they write multiple books, #1 songs, rescue women who are enslaved in sex trafficking, record podcasts, start initiatives for women leaders, produce magazines, travel the world to speak and teach, just to name a few. You might say they are kind of a big deal. I was super excited to hear from them, because who wouldn’t be? Normal Christians get excited and pay money to hear from famous Christians, and I am no exception to that rule.
But oddly enough, it wasn’t anything coming from the lips of a “famous” Christian on stage that stuck with me the most that night. It was the Lady with the Toilet Paper who did.
During the event, I had to go to the bathroom (because I still can’t hold my pee like an adult. Whatever.) While the auditorium was pumping with music and excitement, the halls and lobby were silent, and there was only one other person in the bathroom…the Lady with the Toilet Paper. She had TP rolls up to her shoulders on both arms, and was working diligently to change the toilet paper and clean and freshen up the bathroom. I just sat and watched her for a minute, intrigued. She was probably in her forties, had a plain but pretty face, hair pulled back, and quietly hummed a tune I didn’t recognize as she worked. What struck me most is that she seemed to have a strong and compelling peace about her, unaffected by the unavoidable noise going on in the building all around. When she noticed me watching her (oops) we smiled and exchanged a few awkward words of small talk before I finished by business I came for and left.
When I got back to my seat, the Lady with the Toilet Paper kept coming to mind. I felt bad for her. While all these women were together having a life-changing experience, she was the one stuck cleaning the bathrooms. She was unnoticed, unseen, unrecognized, unappreciated, unknown. How was it okay that we all got to be inside and she was stuck on the outside? It didn’t seem fair. I wanted to know her story; to find out her name, to hear who she was, where she came from, about her family, and if she knew Jesus. She had a background and a series of events that led her to this night and place, and I wanted to know about it.
I never saw her again, but that night when I laid down for bed, I was still thinking about her. I think the reason she stuck with me is because I feel like I am her many times in my life. It is hard for me to do things that feel insignificant and go unappreciated. I don’t mind tasks and dirty work as long as I get the gratitude that should come along with it (which happens never); therefore I grow frustrated, bitter and overtaken by a desire to be seen for the good I do.
“Look at me, how awesome and servant hearted I am, caring for and loving people!”
*the crowd erupts in applause for Humble Katie*
I think I have some heart issues.
Where would Jesus have been that night? Would he be the one on stage, rallying the troops for Kingdom purposes, or the one that got stuck in the bathrooms changing toilet paper? I think the answer is both. Yes, he would be leading and teaching people from the front, but He would also be on His hands and knees serving in the dirtiest ways with zero applause. Because that is who He is.
“even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
The more and more I thought about it, the less I felt bad for the Lady with the Toilet Paper. She may have not received much praise, but she was filling a wonderful opportunity to serve God. He sees her, values her, knows her, and most of all, He loves her. That night, her service was no less significant than that of the main speaker on stage. They had different roles, but serving the same King, the one who sees everything. And more than that, He sees the heart, knowing the purity (or lack thereof) that drives our actions.
When God is looking at my heart, I want Him to be well pleased with what is going on in there, and I know there is a lot of work to be done. I recently took a spiritual gifts test, and “Acts of Service” was near the bottom of my results, but I want to change that. I want to serve God and people in the small and seemingly insignificant ways, not caring who knows about it, and doing so with eagerness and joy.
I don’t even know the Lady with the Toilet Paper’s name, and I probably never will, but I am thankful for her. Our few seconds of interaction left a big impression on me.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24
Until next time,