Note: Gloria Showalter recently arrived in Quito, Ecuador to serve with the Quito Mennonite Church under Mennonite Mission Network. She shares her thoughts on what service should look like. Gloria is a graduate of Goshen College and a member of Marion Mennonite Church.
A friend recently shared with me the article Save the World or Savor It? by Gregory Boyle. The article contrasts two mentalities: that of helping people and saving the world, and that of savoring the world God created. The first mentality, Boyle contends, leads inevitably to burnout while the second actually ends up saving the world. As I begin a two-year term working with the Quito Mennonite Church in Ecuador, through Mennonite Mission Network, this is pertinent and timely wisdom.
Savoring the world God created touches on the issue of dignity. When we try to help or save people, we set up a hierarchy of those who give help above those who receive help. In this setup there is little dignity in being the needy one. As Mennonites, we are all on board when it comes to doing service and helping people.
This is a wonderful part of our understanding of living the good news of God’s reign, but the mentality we have as we serve is important. For example, I ask myself, “Would I rather be seen as someone who needs to be helped or as someone savored as a valuable part of God’s good creation?” I am far more likely to glimpse my belovedness when I experience the dignity of being savored than when I sense someone is trying to save me.
The thing about savoring the world is that it not only gives dignity to those around me, it also opens me to Divine love. God created the world, including all humans, good and beloved. This is easy to forget when I am out to save everybody. When I choose to savor the people and environment around me here in Quito, I get in touch with God’s love which permeates the universe. When I take in more love, I am also at liberty to extend more love.
Before I left for Ecuador, I visited a long-time friend who demonstrated for me the power of savoring. As always, I was deeply blessed as we shared about our lives, ideas and where God has been leading us. The blessing I had not anticipated, however, was the sense that she was savoring my presence, my thoughts and my experiences. It was one of those clear moments when I wake up to the Divine love that envelops me. Her openness offered me a divine encounter.
I have often imagined myself living at the time of Jesus’ ministry and envision myself savoring the human presence of God. If I would savor Jesus, perhaps I should consider savoring people, the image of God all around me. Perhaps multiplying love in the world starts with a mentality shift from saving people to celebrating and savoring the people God loves.
Marion Mennonite Church