This is a guest post by Laura Miller.
I never wanted to be a secret agent.
In fact, I wanted to be a concert pianist. And a teacher. And an actress. And a philanthropist. (I had a very active imagination when I was growing up.) But a secret agent? Farthest thing from my mind. I knew that there was something different about me when I was growing up, but I couldn’t quite understand what it was or why it was. I just figured I’d be one of those things that I wanted to be (Perhaps a teacher who played the piano really well and did community theatre on the side?), and that would be the end of it. I didn’t realize until now, well into my thirties, that the “something different” was God’s slow and steady work within me, molding me in preparation to do a special kind of work later in life that combined almost all of the things I originally wanted to be.
A Calling to Mission
In July of 2009, I was sitting in my office at the Catholic university where I work, and in a moment of complete and utter unproductivity, I started perusing the Internet (as those of us who are feeling particularly unproductive are wont to do). I checked my email, Googled some stuff I’d been interested in, and read some blogs. And that’s when I learned that a fellow blog friend was having a birthday. I wanted to send a present to her, so I emailed her and asked for her mailing address. She was touched, but suggested that instead of me sending her something, why don’t I got out and do a random act of kindness in her name? She said, “You can call yourself Secret Agent L, All-Around Swell Chick and Girl Spy.”
Brilliant, I thought. The actress in me immediately jumped at the chance to play a new character: Secret Agent L. And so I thought up an act of kindness that could be carried out anonymously, as if I truly were a secret agent. With the help of an office mate, my act of kindness ended up consisting of putting a flower on an unsuspecting person’s car, along with a calling card that contained the contact info for my new identity (that information being email and blog addresses). Afterward, we posted some photos of the “mission” on the newly created Secret Agent L blog.
And the Secret Agent L Project was born.
For the next three and a half years, the Project grew from its roots in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, all the way to—are you sitting down?—Japan. There are now over 2,000 Affiliated Agents in 9 countries carrying out similar anonymous missions of kindness and sharing their reports on the Project’s website: SecretAgentL.com. Major media outlets, such as CNN, FOXNews, and the Huffington Post, have interviewed me and highlighted the Project. I’ve gotten emails from people all over the world wanting to be a part of this kindness movement.
And did I see any of this coming? Not at all. But it has become so very clear to me that this is my calling.
When I was in my teens, struggling with, well, those teen things, I did manage somehow to remember to pray. And my prayer was this: God, please use me for goodness. I’d grown up in a home with a family member who lives with a severe mental illness, and so I’d seen, experienced, and known quite deeply my fair sure of pain, of deep suffering, of suffering individuals. And it took a toll on my heart. But God, doing the slow, steady work He’d been doing for years, heard that daily—sometimes hourly—prayer. I simply wanted to be a force of good, to be a facilitator of peace and love and non-suffering.
And with the Secret Agent L Project, I am just that. God absolutely, 100% answered my prayer. And what’s equally amazing is that I see God in the Secret Agent L Project so clearly. When I receive emails from individuals who want to become Affiliated Agents, I see God working in their hearts, calling them to extend kindness to people they don’t know and will probably never even meet. When I am the featured speaker at events around the city, I see God in the attentive faces of the members of the audience who want to listen and experience kindness. When people approach me after speaking engagements and tell me how inspired they are by the Project, I see God moving through them and turning their hearts toward continued goodness and love and service to others.
When I advocate for mental illness awareness through the Secret Agent L Project, and people share their very personal and often extremely painful stories related to the disease, I see God so, so present in those moments. Suffering, which Christ knew so well, is one of the greatest gifts we as humans can experience, as it draws us closer to God and to one another.
When I’m tired, stressed, and feeling the deep, harsh realities of this life, I’ll see in my Secret Agent L Twitter timeline a tweet from someone I’ve never met who wishes me love and peace. I see God’s love for me through others, often strangers, in those moments. And because I am the facilitator of an international kindness project, I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to continually and consistently live out one of the greatest commandments: love one another.
And God is most definitely present in that.
Laura Miller is the founder of The Secret Agent L Project, an international kindness movement with over 2,000 participants in 9 countries. By day, she works at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA.
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