What’s Mine to Do: the Story Behind the Blue Square
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by life — and not necessarily always in a bad way, either.
There’s just SO MUCH I want to do, taste, try, enjoy, experience.
There’s also so much I feel responsible for — children, relationships, my own mental and physical health, finances, education, reputation, the well being of my clients…
It can be a lot.
In those moments, I look up at my wall of inspiration — an actual wall in my office that’s papered FULL of things that inspire, motivate, and equip me for this journey — and see right there in the center, my Sharpie drawing of a blue square. As soon as I see it, I remember the story, take a deep breath, and am comforted.
The Story Behind the Blue Square
The blue square came to be on my wall of inspiration after a missionary visited our church years ago. She told us about her work overseas with children who live beneath the city in sewers and storm drains and tunnels. It was a dirty, terrifying life for the abandoned kids who were there. Predators of all kinds could come down at any time and use, abuse, and kidnap any child at will to traffic them, enslave them, or whatever they felt like doing. It happened all the time.
Thousands of children lived in these tunnels every. single. day.
The missionary’s role, she said, was to offer a shower, food, and rest to whoever happened to cross her path that day. Her gift to one child at a time was a few hours in her apartment to fill up on food and sleep and to be clean. For a few hours, they could be cared for and loved and provided for. Then back to the streets they went.
Her role was small, she said. If she compared the size of her gift to the immense size of the needs and problems, her effort seemed insignificant.
She said, “People often ask me, “don’t you get overwhelmed?” Of course I do! But then I remember this.”
She raised two index fingers in the air at eye level. “This is my part.” She drew a square in the air. “This is what’s mine to do.”
The square she drew was small — no larger than the palm of a child’s hand — and in the great expanse of the church sanctuary, it seemed miniscule. It seemed like nothing in that big space.
Yet this little nothing was what God had given her to do.
Offer a shower, some food, and a nap to whoever I put in your path today.
And so she did. And she did it with love.
That may have been the only loving gesture some of those kids ever experienced.
To them it will not have been small. To some, it may have been the biggest act of love they had ever seen or known or felt.
Even now, as I look at the square drawn on my wall — this reminder to do with joy and trust whatever small things God calls me too — the missionary who drew those lines in the air has no idea to this day how that small gesture has meant so much to me. For years, I’ve clung to that image as a shelter in my storms of overwhelm. For years I have told others about that brilliant piece of wisdom she shared. For years, the little square has built up others. That little blue square has impacted my life for years. And maybe even the lives of those I tell about it.
And she has no idea.
When it’s your turn to feel overwhelmed, I hope the blue square story encourages you too.
Your effort may be small compared to the greatness of the task or need.
But the greatness of any task or any need is met not by a single hero in a single effort, but by thousands of smaller efforts, each one critically important in its own way. Each one perhaps no bigger than the palm of a child’s hand.
Keep doing the next small thing.
It is more powerful than you know.
PS. If you are currently in a state of overwhelm with your book marketing, my Book Launch Boot Camp may be a helpful tool for you as it has been for others.