Today former U.S. president George W. Bush came to UMHB to give a lecture. College students and people in Belton have been talking about this for weeks, and I think for about 48 hours every other post on my Facebook feed will have a #GeorgeW or some mention of this famous Texan man. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. But if Facebook tracked what’s “trending in Belton,” this definitely would make the cut.
All this to say, there has been a great big hoo-rah about it. (Not to be confused with hurrah. My sister once told me hoo-rah wasn’t a word, but it’s fun to say and I still hold that it means something like “a big deal”.)
Anyway, there was a big hoo-rah, and though I am impressed that such a big name came to such a small school in such a small town, I share the sentiment of one of my roommates that “He’s just a man.”
This morning as I sipped my coffee and ran rather mundane errands, I happened to drive past UMHB right at the time Bush was supposed to start speaking. I had this thought:
“Isn’t it interesting that when Shawn Shannon (UMHB’s Baptist Student Ministry director) speaks at an event, the whole community doesn’t flock to hear her?”
Though she makes more of an impact on UMHB's campus than any one-time speaker, students don’t sacrifice prime nap time to hear Shawn’s wisdom. I use Shawn as an example because of the substantial mark she’s made in my own life (through both her teaching and her lifestyle), but there are countless others in the community who spend their time quietly challenging, encouraging, and investing in us - day by day, week by week, year by year.
Yet they do so without the fame. Without the recognition. Without the hoo-rah.
These people, the ones who most impact our lives, tend to be the very people we are least excited to hear from, perhaps because they are so close and so constantly present that we take them for granted.
I recently listened to a talk (via YouTube, of course) by researcher Brené Brown about how we value the approval of the “stranger at the mall” and the people who look down on us much more than we value the acceptance of those who are close to us and freely give their love.(1) She quotes Groucho Marx, who once said, “I sent the club a wire stating, ‘Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.’”(2)
In whatever social arena we find ourselves - work, school, church - we crave the favor of those who don’t accept us, and we often place little value in the opinion and acceptance of those who daily traverse the ups and downs of life with us.
This morning I zipped right past UMHB (actually I more puttered since the speed limit is 30), and I did not regret that I was sitting in my car, sipping coffee, running mundane errands. For though there is excitement over meeting someone famous, whether Bush or Obama or anyone else whose name makes the headlines, in the end, it’s just that: meeting them. Not doing life together, celebrating the end of another work week, or grieving a loss.
The Lord’s been teaching me quite a bit about valuing His constant, quiet, faithful companionship, and He's been teaching me about valuing the love of those around me, too - those who support me in their unassuming yet laudable ways. I suppose this is why if Shawn Shannon had been the one speaking at today’s event, I probably would have made more of an effort to attend.
Even though I didn’t hear his lecture, maybe I did get something from #GeorgeW’s speech today, after all: a reminder to take a moment and appreciate those who love us, support us, and do life with us day by day. So here’s to all of you who quietly make a difference by investing in me and in others as a lifestyle: this may only be a simple blog post, but it’s my way of letting you know there's a big hoo-rah about you in my life.
(1) Brené Brown: Why Your Critics Aren't The Ones Who Count (www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-JXOnFOXQk)