Wednesday, May 23, 2018

So you say you're not making a difference?

The other day at a church meeting I heard a young mother/wife confess that she's not sure she's doing it right...that maybe she's falling so far short. You know, the "staying-at-home-and-feeling-like-you're-not-contributing-much-to-life" young mother thing?

If you've been there, you know just what I'm talking about...the endless pull by little hands...a house that never looks like the one you dreamed of when you were single...the day after day after day dying to self and feeling guilty when you don't. It's hard. And it's so easy to feel like you're failing...God, yourself, your husband, your kids.

I remember all these things way too clearly today...the daily rush of emotion and the heaviness of futility and the just plain ol' exhaustion of keeping so many balls bouncing when really, what would happen if you let them all drop?

I was in my 20's, which means it was a long long time ago. And I was all those things I just wrote and more. I didn't come from a Christian home, so I had no training in wifeing, or mothering, or so many strengths that would have helped me cope during that overwhelming season of life.

But I did have a friend. And her name was Julie. And if ever I thought angels existed, she was proof. Truthfully, I don't even remember how we met. But all of a sudden she was there. And I mean there. Present. With me. By my side. Loving me in spite of all my unloveableness.

I remember her home...and to this day I think a part of me is still trying to recreate it. She lived passionately, colorfully, fully...tables and shelves piled high with books! Flowers...everywhere! And art that stilled my soul and spoke volumes to my dry and empty spirit! Whenever I was with her I felt hopeful and life was full of exclamation points! Like maybe someday, I could be like her.

And God knows I tried. All the best in her brought out all the best in me...whether it was loving on children...or tenderly speaking of her precious relationship with Jesus...or building a Godly marriage. She gave all of herself to whomever she was with...and she always, always, let you know that she believed in you...that inside that worn out, tired out, fizzled out you, there was a dancer...and a song...and the grace to follow hard after it.

If anyone ever taught me the value of holiness in a family, the home, and the world, it was her.

Now, many many years later and a mite bit wiser, I see it wasn't so much her I wanted to be like...but the Jesus in her...the incredibly alive relationship she had with Christ, that overflowed and poured out into all those she set her heart on. And I was blessed to be one of them.

I just learned that Julie has died. And I feel like a light has gone out that this world desperately needed. I grieve for her family...for all who knew and loved her. She made a heart-shaped hole in all of us and no one will ever fill it. I'm not Julie. And you're not Julie. She was a custom made one-of-a-kind creation that God broke the mold on.

But, dear one, you can be as Julie to someone in your life...someone who's drowning and sinking and finds it hard to go on. All that God has placed within you is tremendously valuable...chances are it's not something earth shattering...something so big that the whole world is noticing...but it's there. And it's needed. Can you listen? Can you sit with someone? Can you encourage? Can you be available?

These are the things that literally saved my life.

Pouring ourselves out for others is costly....and it's so much easier to guard our hearts and our time.  Julie could have. She could have taken one look at me and thought, "This one's gonna take a lot of me, so I'll pass."  But she didn't.

And now I have 4 children and almost 9 grandchildren and an intact marriage all because someone came alongside of me...who danced in front of me so I could catch the dream.

This is my gift to you, dear Julie...a testimony of a life well, faithfully, gloriously lived! All that you gave to me, I shall do my best to pass on to others. And someday, when we're together again, you will grab me by the hand and with that twinkle in your eyes and that sparkling laugh...we will dance.

And then we'll hold out our arms to the others we have loved, and invite them to dance with us also.

A great dance festival of praise and worship to the One who made this dance possible...and to those who labored alongside Him.

You are dearly loved, my friend. Enjoy your forever Home. I'm sure I'll recognize it when I get There.