Zipping Adam's coat and other great feats

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By Camille McClanahan

Have you ever felt like an under achiever? Do you always have the feeling that no matter what you are engaged in, you should be doing something else? Whatever I do—I always feel like it’s not enough. I don’t know, maybe it’s a “woman thing,” the endless guilt trip that we travel on life’s highway.

If I clean my house, I feel like I should be cleaning my car. If I work in the yard, a nagging little voice whispers, “Your house is a mess, you really should be plowing through that.” And then the nasty little muse adds, “What would your mother think, if she saw the condition of your bathrooms?”

As I struggle to keep up with mediocrity, I look at famous people, around my age, who are making an impact on the world, and I sigh. I think about those in my family, who are involved in Christian world missions, and I marvel at what they are doing across the globe. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never do anything that alters international events, but, maybe, just maybe, I can be a blessing.

In fact, that has been my prayer almost daily for the past few years: “Lord, help me to think like you, see others as you see them—direct me to bless someone today.” Ultimately, when I get the chance to do an act of kindness, the blessing falls on me.

As many of you know, in trying to catch up on life, I graduated from college just last year. Maybe it was all part of that, “I know I can do more,” OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) that plagues me, but it was a great experience.

In my last semester, during winter, I had to take an evening class. It was harsh and cold walking across campus to get to my creative writing class, and after class the darkness made it even worse. The class was made up mostly of young men. There were two who inspired me. First there was Paul, who came into the classroom led by his guide dog, Chicago. He often bumped into things on his way in—Chicago wasn’t particularly good at his job. Paul was undaunted. And then there was Adam, who came in his motorized wheel chair. I’m not sure what had afflicted Adam, but he showed the scars of surgeries and had little use of his hands.

On the first night of class, as usual, I felt out of place, but was determined to get through it. After class, while waiting for the elevator, Adam rolled his chair toward me at a fast pace. I’ll admit, it made me uncomfortable. “What’s he doing?” I thought. When he got as close as possible, without running me down, he stopped.

“During this semester, will you zip my coat?” he asked. “I can unzip it, but I can’t zip it.”

My eyes scanned his drawn and twisted hands and my heart melted.

“I’d be happy to,” I said. As I reached down, placed the zipper in its track and zipped his coat, a feeling that I had been given an opportunity to do something extraordinary washed over me.

As I left that night, I saw Adam speeding down the sidewalk in his chair, headed across campus to his dorm, with the cold wind blowing against him.

For the rest of the semester, that was my job, and nothing has blessed me more than helping Adam on those bone-chilling nights. Maybe accomplishing something great is not about historic attainment. Perhaps it’s more about small acts of benevolence.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”(Micah 6:7-9).

As I stumble through life, wanting to accomplish something noteworthy, this scripture brings my purpose more clearly into view, and I pray I’ll recognize those little opportunities for greatness, like zipping Adam’s coat.

(Linda Lawrence is the editorial assistant for the Grant County News. She can be reached at gcneditorial@grantky.com.)