Every October, the university in our town has its homecoming. And you may know I consider it a personal parade in my honor, because it was the first big outing for us and our firstborn. He wore a little purple Truman State University jacket and everything (from my dear friend Luke). And a tradition was born.
After moving into our house several years ago we added the tradition of actually walking to campus for the parade route and we discovered this really wonderful thing. The sign in this picture says “Free Pancakes”. And that’s really what it means. The house sits catty-corner to where we always stand for the parade, and I live for their pancakes. And every year I think, surely they have a donation jar and I’ve just missed it before. But no, I’ve asked. There are seriously no strings attached to their hot pancakes, plastic plates and forks and big ol’ vats of syrup. The Pancake House. These guys are today’s visual aid.
I’ve been thinking about this quote Felicity pointed me to last week:
We are motivated by two conflicting fears in life: the fear of failure and the fear of insignificance. What we endeavor to do is determined by which fear is the strongest.
You only have to read a few posts to know I have a whole label for “trying to matter”. That’s definitely my bigger fear. So what am I actually striving for? What are any of us striving for when we strive for significance?
I helped lead a youth group once and one of the girls expressed this fear. She felt afraid she would never reach her dreams if she stayed in our small mid-American town. And another woman in the room told her this, “If you serve people the way you’re supposed to, no one will ever know your name.”
And I had two thoughts – okay three. One: Ouch. Two: What am I doing leading a youth group when I relate more to that girl’s question than to the answer? And Third: Is that true?
It wasn’t true for Mother Teresa. It seems kinda true for the Pancake House. Lord, I love them, but I don’t know a one of their names.
I heard once, on one of the many talent-driven reality shows out there, that some people just want to be famous whereas some people have a gift they know they’re supposed to use. Part of my fear of insignificance is the fear that I won’t put anything memorable in the earth. And I think, by that, I probably mean something lovely that in the end basically points to me. Ew.
But there’s this other part. This part that says, I just want to be useful. I want to add something to the world that helps the world. I want that something to matter.
It’s gotta be something like this that motivates college students to make free pancakes every homecoming and never even fly a banner with the name of their organization. And I hope someday I can be really sure it’s what motivated me and that there’s something somewhere to show for it.