Today is the birthday of the custodian that cleaned my dorm in college. That sentence feels a bit strange to write. I haven’t talked with this woman in over 7 years and I bet most people don’t even know the name of the person to cleaned the bathrooms of their dorms. I remember Donna’s birthday not because I’m some amazing person but because she is! I can mention Donna to others who went to my school and many of them would instantly be able to recall a memory of her with a smile on their face as they told it. Donna was a truly beautiful woman inside and out!
Donna’s life calling was literally to clean bathrooms. She believed it with all her heart and it showed. She did her job with excellence and viewed it as a ministry, a way to serve the students in our dorm!
While Donna never slowed down or slacked on the job, she also never missed an opportunity to engage us while she worked. She’d ask us how our holidays were when we got back from breaks. She’d wave to us as we passed her in the halls. She’d listen when we had a hard day and promise to pray as she continued her work and I have no doubt in my mind that she did just that. She’d remember to ask us about those conversations later that week and somehow miraculously remembered which story belonged to which student. The specific buildings she worked in changed from year to year but I know mine wasn’t the only one. She served hundreds of students every day and counted it an honor to clean their bathrooms.
She was also very wise, never pushing her wisdom on us, but instead letting it flow out of her soul. For example, upon returning to my hall after Thanksgiving break the year I was an RA, I found Donna busy preparing for all of us to return. She had Christmas music playing from the radio we had in the bathroom and was joyously singing along. Her comment to me was, “I just love Christmas music! How wonderful that at this time of year, the whole world lets us play music that speaks truth of Jesus all over the place! It’s in stores and on secular radio stations. I just pray that something as simple as one of these songs could change someone’s life.”
This is just one of many profound “side comments” Donna made without really realizing the impact she was having on the young women around her!
I share all of this because it’s a reminder and a challenge to me to live into whatever calling God has for me today. He reminds us in Colossians 3: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord.” What strikes me most is the word “whatever”. Whatever you’re doing today, yes even cleaning bathrooms, is a way to honor God and worship Him.
And who knows, some college kid may remember you 7 years later and their life may be different because of you!
With God’s help I pray I can do this today… that I can make beds and do laundry and talk with the college students God has put in my life and interact with my teammates and spend time with some kids and WHATEVER else he puts before me, doing it with all my heart. I’ll do this today as a way to honor God and also a way to honor Donna on her birthday.
Wherever you are Donna, know that your impact continues on. Your work was not vain! Happy Birthday! I’m so glad you were born!