I was having a cell phone conversation with someone the other day about The Torch. Judging from the types of questions I was asked, and the conversation, I would guess the individual is comfortably well-off and has not been involved very much with any type of charity work. Having spent most of my adult life volunteering in a variety of capacities for a variety of causes, and working in the schools with individuals who have disabilities - I sometimes feel like I am speaking with a foreigner when I encounter a person who does not, has not, and likely will not volunteer for anything - nor will she ever see a reason to do so. During the conversation last week we finally got to the inevitable why questions. People have a burning desire to know the “whys” of things they do not have the capacity to understand.
Why are you doing this? Why don’t you want to take salaries? Why do you spend so much time on it?
I ponder those questions. Why do we do this? Somebody once told me I was probably doing The Torch because it made me feel good. Hmmm. Actually, oftentimes The Torch is very stressful. It without a doubt is the the most challenging thing I have ever undertaken- mentally, physically AND emotionally - and that is coming from a woman who earned her Master’s degree while raising children and working two jobs. When I think long and hard, I seriously am not doing The Torch for me. It isn’t because I have a need to make myself feel good - there are a lot of easier ways I could do that, believe me! And it isn’t because someday I see a vision of hundreds of Torch trucks out on the roads, feeding people all over the place. I am not driven by the desire to grow the organization, and hence, my ego, huge. That seems kind-of self-serving to me, actually.
I don’t have a desire to be paid a salary from The Torch’s donations, either. Why not? I don’t think that is the best thing for The Torch. I personally don’t like to donate money to organizations where a significant percentage of my donation is used to pay overhead. It certainly would be easier for Sarah and me to work full time for The Torch, and not have to punch the clock at other time-consuming jobs. Our hearts are in The Torch, but I have a fear of becoming just like other non-profit organizations - and if my livelihood is tied up in getting donations, I feel like my focus could change from feeding people to feeding me. I believe some day Sarah and I will be able to lead The Torch full time without touching a dime of the donations. I don’t know how, or when, but I fully believe the time will come. Until then, we work, and it is not easy to do, let me tell you. It can be exhausting and draining, and our passions run high - and we can’t do everything we want to do. But we are doing what we can. And as The Torch grows, I truly believe it will be because of the help of like-minded volunteers.
So, why? So many reasons run through my mind.
We do it because it is the right thing to do. We do it because life sucked for a very long time - and even though we don’t have much, we have something that we can share. We do it because we were there and we care about others, whether they have suffered for a long time or are just facing challenges right now. We care. We care so deeply we want to help and to make a difference. We want people to know life can get better. It will get better. We do it because we don’t wear “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelets. I know that sounds weird, but bracelets don’t make things happen, people do. We just try to figure out what He would do - and do it. He was radical and unusual. His love was all-encompassing. We do it because of that. We do it because we want to be different - indeed, we are called to be different. We feel like all-too-often there are so many strings attached to Christian love the love itself is obscured and hard to see. And somewhere along the way Christians got comfortable hiding behind the church walls and counting people, only daring to come out for an occasional activity that might impact the community, but more in the hopes of bringing bodies into the building. We do it to break that mold, to stand up against such comfort zones.
We do it because maybe it will inspire someone else to do something different and new, casting off the desire to get something out of it for themselves. We do it because we can’t. Seriously, only God could move the mountains, squash the obstacles, and open the doors we have faced. We do it because we can. We can push ourselves out of our comfort zones, and work until we are exhausted, and listen and love and try to lead the way so others will do the same. We do it because life is not about getting more, or getting ahead, or getting it all; life is about community and love and people. We do it because life is not about us as individuals, it is about us as a group - as an interwoven tapestry of lives all joined together - TOGETHER on this earth. We do it because of you, because of your neighbor, because of your family, your parents, your friends, because of the people who don’t get it and those who do. We do it because there is Hope in knowing somebody cares, somebody is going to smile at us and treat us kindly, somebody understands we truly are all created equal and all have equal and infinite value and worth.
We just do The Torch.