Analysis Paralysis

This is a long overdue post to the blog, I know. We’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to grow this effort. We have arrived at a point where we have a very passionate, faithful group of volunteers who are shouldering a pretty consistent piece of the work that we do in our communities. We now find ourselves asking the age-old question “Have we plateau’d, and, if so, now what?”

It’s not just a Burrito Riders question, and it’s not just within our community. The larger question is, “How do we step outside of ourselves and begin walking with others?” It’s not always easy to do, but it’s almost always easier than we think it will be. Sometimes it looks like the hardest thing to do. Consider this passage, a verse from 1st John featured on one of our Burrito Riders labels.

          This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.              1 John 3:16

That sounds huge, right?! Jesus had it wired. He definitely knew what needed to be done, but am I really supposed to lay down MY life for others? I’m going to interpret this in a very non-scholarly fashion, because you know that I’m no theologian. Don’t think of it as hurling yourself in front of a metaphorical cross-town bus to spare the person who’s stumbled in the crosswalk. Rather, consider laying down an element of your life for your brothers and sisters. Think of something that you really enjoy, a part of your routine that is just sacred. Maybe you really enjoy sleeping in on Saturday and then a leisurely cup (or 6) of coffee (I know I totally do). Maybe Friday night is your out-on-the-town night, your chance to blow off some steam. Can you lay that down for someone else? Can you sacrifice a piece of your routine in order to make time for someone else? Perhaps you can set aside the fact that you guard your weekends after a long work week, and volunteer with a group. Perhaps you forgo sleeping in on Saturday because you realize that your getting up early to help at the mission or shelter could mean the world to someone who doesn’t even know yet that they needed to see you there, for them.

Maybe it’s more complex than simply giving up some patio time, a hobby, or a guilty pleasure. Maybe we need to lay down something that resides much deeper inside of you. Have you ever heard of the concept of “analysis paralysis?” Loosely defined, it’s the idea that we sometimes get so wound-up about every little piece of a complex problem or we gaze as far as we can see up the steep slope of the job ahead of us that we get locked up and frustrated. As a result, we’re often defeated before we even start. It’s okay to admit it. I do this all of the time. I try to be better, bolder in the face of adversity, but I still struggle with avoidance when the mountain looks too high to tackle.

Perhaps lay down the insecurity in your life, so that you can pick up something that’s been weighing on your brother or sister. And when you do start to feel that anxiety creep in, the surety that you can’t possibly do enough to help (so why bother doing anything, really?), it’s okay to acknowledge that you have limits and that you can’t possibly fix everything for everyone. But you can fix one thing, or maybe a handful of things, for one person or one couple or one family. Do for one what you wish you could do for many. I can’t buy everyone’s food and solve world hunger, but I can buy lunch for one person today who needs it. I can’t fix the school system’s budget crisis, but I can buy school supplies for a family.

We are not all well off. Many of us can’t afford that new iPhone or TV. Many of us would love to run downtown and buy a new bicycle, but that’s expensive and, really, our 7 year old bike is just fine. A lot of us can’t spare the cash to take our spouse or date to a movie. Sometimes we really have to think hard about whether or not we should spend $6 on a drink at Starbucks, delicious though it is. Despite all of this, we have so much more than so many people and none of these things matter to someone who has no safe place to sleep at night or can’t buy dinner for his family or can’t buy shoes that fit for his child.

Have you priced a pair of kids’ shoes at Walmart? You can probably afford to help that one kid, and those shoes are better than any iPhone to that child.

What can you do for one person? It might be a person in your life who needs you or it might be for a person you haven’t yet met. Open yourself up to the possibility.

This is the part where I remind you that the Burrito Riders are an awesome way to connect with someone. The burritos are pretty cheap to make and they are the tool we use to make friends. Our formula seems simple (ride bikes, give out burritos to hungry folks), but our mission is more complex. We enter with the burrito so that we can become friends. The burrito is the handshake upon which we begin building relationships, through respect and trust, so that we can show God’s love. Once we have begun to learn people’s names and situations, we can start to see what the opportunities are to help individuals at the ground level, one person at a time.

And if not the Burrito Riders, there are opportunities within your life to begin to get involved in the life of one other person, no matter how small or how insignificant the gesture may seem to you. It may mean everything to someone with nothing.

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