A million light years ago when I was twenty, I used to sing a song with these words:
Make me a servant, humble and meek,
Lord, let me lift up those who are weak,
And may the prayer of my heart always be,
Make me a servant, make me a servant, make me a servant today.
(Song by Kelly Willard)
As it turns out, I had no idea what I was singing. I meant it, but decades ago, before I had children and a husband and a dog who will tear up three brand new boxes of tissues if you leave them on the kitchen counter after carrying in the bags from Walmart, I had no idea. What I had, way back in the olden days, was a dorm room and a bunch of classes and a roommate who was so neat and tidy that she kept her hot rollers in the original box when she wasn’t using them.
I volunteered my time, of course, for various charitable causes. I spent my Spring Breaks riding in vans to work in inner-city churches, helping as much as a middle-class white girl can. During summers, I stacked chairs and followed orders and one summer, worked as a nanny for a stay-at-home doctor’s wife who had four children.
I thought I had experienced servant-hood and it wasn’t all that hard, so singing that song was a pretty way to express my ardent devotion to God.
Now I hear myself saying things like, “What am I? The slave around here?” and “I am not your servant girl!” and “Why am I the ONLY ONE who does ANYTHING AROUND HERE?”
I hear myself.
I know that my life is blessed. I know that I am among the world’s richest. I have running water and modern amenities that so many people around the world can’t even imagine. My kids are healthy. My husband is funny and calm and an all around awesome guy. I really have nothing to complain about.
My heart is kind of whiny, though.
My heart is not a servant’s heart.
And I’m afraid to sing that song because what does it really mean for me to be a servant?