Let’s clear this up right at the beginning. I’m no Mother Teresa, and chances are, neither are you. I used to think joining he Sisters of Charity or some other compassionate group nd devoting my life to the poor and suffering was the only real ay to make a difference. For a time, I bought nearly all my lothes at secondhand thrift shops and volunteered at a nursing ome and a downtown soup kitchen.

With the little money I had, I gave all I could to worthy auses. I even spent a night on the streets of the inner city, all by myself, in an “urban plunge” to get a glimpse of what it was like to be homeless.

I was dead set on finding my way on the road less traveled — and on making a difference.

The road less traveled

It’s a simple phrase of poetry penned by Robert Frost, one of he most quoted poets of our time. This line of poetry is quoted often for good reason, and I could not resist its pull. Something deep inside me still resonates with these words, even after hearing hem time and again. For who, when faced with options, doesn’t want to take the road that makes a difference? Al the difference!

Being a poet myself, it’s a phrase I’ve identified with since I was girl — about the time I began looking up to significant women.

Catherine Booth, the cofounder of the Salvation Army, became one of my heroes. Like Mother Teresa, she wasn’t consumed by convention and was determined to do whatever it took to make a difference in her eighteenth-century England — even if it was “not the job of a woman” to do so.

I’ve always loved her response to an uptight, pious man who held up his Bible and argued, “Paul said to the Corinthians it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” “Oh yes, so he did,” said Catherine.

“But in the first place this is not a church, and in the second place, I am not a Corinthian; besides,” she continued, looking at the man’s wife, “Paul said in the same epistle that it was good for the unmarried to remain so.” You’ve got to admire that kind of spunk in a woman. At least I do.

But I’ve got to confess, I’m no Catherine Booth either.

In fact, my life these days is ensconced with all the typical trappings of a modern married woman with two children living in the mainstream. These days, you’re far more likely to find me browsing at Baby Gap for my toddler than searching the racks of a thrift store. And you’re more likely to find me sipping a latte at Starbucks than feeding the homeless with soup at a shelter. Maybe the same is true for you, whatever your situation. You long to make a difference but feel you don’t measure up to many other women.

Somewhere between the idealism of my college years and the pragmatism of real life, I’ve wondered if I’ve forsaken the road less traveled altogether. After all, how can I make a difference when some days I can’t even find my keys?

Excerpt from You Matter More Than You Think, published by Zondervan.

Copyright © 2006 Leslie Parrott Ph.D., used with permission.

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