There’s something very humbling about a toilet bowl brush and a gross porcelain pot.
Especially if it’s one used by a bunch of folks I don’t know.
Our group had the opportunity to volunteer at Orlando Union Rescue Mission, one of the oldest and largest homeless service providers in central Florida. Established in 1948, its one of the only agencies that accommodate families with husbands and wives as well as single parent families. Their goal is to keep families together while they’re in the process of working through challenging times. 28 of us went in, willing to work where they needed an extra pair of hands.
Hence bathroom duty.
Eight of us were tasked with cleaning the chapel for the evening services. Vacuuming, dusting, cleaning bathrooms, mopping. My friend, Chrissy, and I offered to do bathroom duty. I’ve been doing bathrooms for years and thought I’d experienced about everything a bathroom could throw at me.
We began in the men’s room–a first for me. Urinals and toilets.
Bathrooms tell stories.
These are used by folks who’ve been homeless. Many haven’t had the luxury of having a clean facility to use for their needs for some time. Others have learned to make do for so long that they forget what being in a place free from grime or disgusting residue could feel like. We had all kinds of really powerful products–the smell alone was making me gag. But I had a huge aha moment.
We were providing a gift for these people of a clean bathroom. Cleaning as if we were cleaning White House toilets–with attention to detail and concern for thoroughness.
We were giving these people a gift of dignity. That their basic needs were worth being satisfied in the best possible way. They deserved clean toilets, clean floors, fresh towels just like everybody else does.
It’s small. The worth of a clean toilet speaks volumes to those who haven’t had that as their norm.
Anything that reminds people they have value and dignity helps them understand a bigger picture. All are made in the image of God who created us in dignity, with value. That we’re not disposable people. That our lives matter–no matter our appearance, our job–or lack of job, our socioeconomic status, our ethnicity.
We can’t craft our circumstances. Life happens to all of us. The unplanned and unasked for things catch us off guard and fly in the face of plans and hopes.
God isn’t surprised. He knows what’s happening to us, what we’re confronted with. Life is hard. But He’s surrounded us with people who should be caring for one another in a way that shows we recognize the value of every individual.
We interacted with some of the people at the Mission. People whose circumstances we knew weren’t easy–things most of us have never gone through–and yet their perspective was one of gratitude. Someone had made them feel they mattered.
We weren’t put here for our pleasure. Our purpose in life is more noble–love God and love others.
What have you done lately to make someone unexpected feel valuable?