Wrapping Paper & Purposeful Suffering

Yesterday was kind of a long day. Not because I was doing anything all that difficult, but because I spent 6 hours wrapping cardboard boxes of all different shapes and sizes.

I’ve never been a good wrapper. At best, I’m average… so when my boss asked me if I could wrap the boxes for the canned food drive we’re sponsoring, I was a little nervous. These boxes are going out to different locations throughout the community, and they’ll be sitting in those locations for over a month. Most of the presents I wrap get opened within minutes of reception. There isn’t a lot of time to notice the imperfections. Not so with these boxes for work… lots of people will see them. They will be sitting out in public for 4 weeks.

Granted, no one is going to know that I was the one who did the wrapping, but the name of our company will be on them. I don’t want to make our office look shoddy… as though the wrapping job reflects the rest of the work that we do.

With this mindset, I was determined to make these boxes look good. I measured meticulously, I cut carefully, I taped sparingly… and I struggled. When I was 2/3 of the way finished with the job, all I wanted was a break. I wanted so badly to sit down, and to finish with the rest of the boxes the following day. My back was aching, my feet were pounding and I was regretting my choice to wear heeled boots.

Then a thought popped into my head: these boxes were going to be filled with food that would help to feed the people in our community who struggle to make ends meet. A major aspect of my job is to direct individuals in need to the organization where they can receive the proper aid. I’m not going to lie, I sometimes talk to some very entitled individuals. However, I also speak to people like “Sheila”, a single mom who had been laid off and had yet to be approved for food stamps. When I spoke with her she was crying and ashamed; she hadn’t been able to feed her eight year old son in two days. I was able to get her a hot lunch immediately, as well as food to take home so that she would be able to provide for her son.

Right as I was ready to take a break, I thought of Sheila, and all the other individuals who were going to benefit from the canned food drive… and a swap took place. God’s grace shined a light and offered itself to me. This moment of realization was not a moment of guilt. It wasn’t like the shame placed on a child who doesn’t want to eat his dinner (“There are starving children in Africa!” his parents tell him). I didn’t feel as though I had no right to feel tired or achy since my troubles are small compared to others.


Instead I realized there was actually a purpose for my current suffering.

Because of these simple boxes that I was taking the time to wrap, someone was going to have food that wouldn’t otherwise… and that made me really happy.

I didn’t take the break. I finished the boxes, and my aches and pains fell into the background of my concerns for the day.


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