At first, I thought I could cinch my boot straps up a notch or two and wade through the emotion. But as soon as I walked through the church door and saw the “Happy Mother’s Day” sign, my boots fell apart.
Just six weeks earlier I had gone to my mother’s house only to discover she had gone to be with Jesus. She had suffered the usual aches and pains for someone her age, and her dementia was getting more noticeable, but we weren’t prepared for her to leave us quite so soon. So, agreeing to serve in our church’s children’s program on Mother’s Day might not have been the wisest decision, but it turned into quite a blessing.
I serve with some of the most amazing young people I have ever been blessed to know. Their outpouring of love and concern overwhelmed my already overwhelmed emotions. I fought back the tears knowing they would fall like rain as soon as the worship music began. And they did. But God strengthened me enough to close out the children’s service before gathering my small passel of first and second grade girls for our small group time.
My instructions were to have them begin their Mother’s Day craft while I asked them questions about their moms. In my emotional state, I knew I might not be up for that. Besides, girls that age are content to color and create anyway. That’s when Timothy, a young man in his mid-twenties, walked over and sat down next to me. He asked, “So, how are you doing today?”
I responded with my usual, “I’m good. How about you?”
He dug a little deeper, “What are your plans for the day?”
As my busy little circle of girls continued to color, I answered, “Well, actually I’m doing something a little different today. Instead of going out to eat with my kids and their families, I’m going to cook this afternoon and have them come eat dinner at our house. I just need to stay busy today.”
Timothy smiled, and then confirmed my suspicion of him being much wiser than his years. He repeated the exact words my counselor had spoken a few weeks earlier, “That’s good! You need to be with people today.”
Tomorrow is Independence Day. As a nation, we celebrate our independence from the tyranny of taxation without representation and religious oppression. But, perhaps as Christians it might be good to celebrate our dependence on God and all the friends and family members He’s blessed us with.
Do you have a hard time asking for help and depending on others? Me too. I’ve heard it said by many people that we should only do the things that only we can do. We should let others do what they can do, and let God do what only He can do. No wonder we get so weary! We try to do it all by failing to rely on the resources God has provided! My counselor friend struck a nerve when she reminded me that by choosing to let other people tackle tasks they were fully capable of handling, I was giving them of the opportunity to have no regrets and to feel needed. That small shift in my thinking made a huge difference. Now, I feel that when I ask for help I’m actually doing a good thing for that person. That makes it a win for everyone.
In Proverbs 18:1 Solomon warned, “One who isolates himself pursues selfish desires; he rebels against all sound wisdom.” I’m bad about wanting too much quiet time. I don’t ask for help many times because I enjoy working on tasks alone – until I get in a time crunch. My personality doesn’t require lots of people and conversation, but I’ve come to realize that if I’m not intentional about my relationships I could turn into a hermit lickety-split.
God did not create any of us to live isolated. He has a purpose for each of us and the gist of that purpose is to love Him by loving His other children. Thanks to your Creator, you have a variety of caring people in your life. They weren’t placed there to fulfill your selfish desires, but to prove His amazingly comprehensive love for you and to teach you how to love others in a variety of ways.
No matter how wonderful your spouse is, he/she can’t be your everything. None of your friends, no matter how well they know and love you, can be your everything. Expecting that of them places them under too much pressure and will eventually wear them out. On the other hand, despite all your gifts, wisdom, and abilities, you cannot be everything to anyone else. That’s God’s job! He ably takes care of you through the gifts He’s graciously given to those who love you while simultaneously using your gifts to take care of them. It’s the variety of diverse people who round out our understanding of love. Experiencing all the unique ways love can be demonstrated teaches us how to better love those God has placed in our path.
To all of the Timothys in my life, thank you for sitting with me for a while! You love me well and teach me many wonderful things!
If you’re spending time with friends and family this week, celebrate your dependence on one another and think on these things:
“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone.” (Romans 12:9-17, The Message)
If you’d like another perspective on the importance of relationships, take a look at Shirley Chupp’s recent post Community on the Lean Into Jesus website. Happy Tuesday!