We are fortunate in our church to have many generations of women mentoring those who are younger or less mature in faith. I’m in my 40s, with several “aunts” and one “mother,” we’re a family. We take care of each other. Sometimes I find that, when I think I’m taking care of someone else, she’s actually looking after me.
On the Step with Wisdom
Such was my experience with “Lynne” recently. Her husband exhibits early signs of dementia and his health is failing. She has been a figure of such courage through the trials of living with someone who has become increasingly negative and draining.
Lynne has continued to be loving and loyal, not prone to “dissing her man,” as my kids might say. She does as Paul teaches: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
Her perspective is that God is in control and totally trustworthy, but she’s real about her experience too. Frustrations emerge in small, controlled bursts, and only very seldom does she ask for prayer to help her be loving and patient.
Lynne doesn’t go around sharing details with people she barely knows; she has a sense of propriety and boundaries. She exemplifies self-control, consideration for others, respect for her husband, faith in her Savior, and delight in following her Lord.
While Lynne would admit to being a little stubborn about doing things herself instead of asking for help, she is learning to accept little gifts, small tokens of love.
As we sat together on her front step, she was teaching me by her example:
This is how we Christians have been taught to do life; this is a godly response to a difficult relationship; this is compassion and honesty in the wake of suffering. This is what Jesus showed, and it’s my delight to try and copy my Savior.
She kept bringing everything back to the Lord. He is her focus, the core of her strength; the reason Lynne is able to reflect on her situation, her exhaustion, with hope and even humor.
A Gift for Me
I arrived with some baking Lynne and her husband could nibble with coffee, and was going to leave it outside with a note. We’re all social distancing after all, and her husband is vulnerable, so I don’t want to pass on anything unwittingly.
She was outside sitting on her front step, however, and invited me to sit. We perched at a distance from each other, yearning to hug, but responsibly restraining ourselves. She’s not a hugger, I’m not a hugger, but we all want to embrace these days.
As we talked about the Lord, her devotions, and her situation, she also asked questions about my life, my kids, my job. I was given the privilege of praying for her, and she prayed for me.
She left her troubles to one side for several minutes to first lift praises to God and then to uphold me and my loved ones. Lynne remembered names and situations from prayer requests made months ago, unconsciously demonstrating generosity and selflessness.
After all, you only remember ongoing prayer requests if you devotedly keep them in mind over time, and she clearly had. I need people like Lynne to remind me to pray more faithfully and consistently.
I didn’t want to leave, we could have gone on interceding for our friends, our families, our neighborhood, our pastors, our country.
We could have talked on and on about what we had been learning in our devotions — or I could have, if not for the nagging suspicion that I was expected home to cook dinner.
Meanwhile, the demands on Lynne seem never-ending and she certainly didn’t have time for an hour-long chat, even if we were discussing our Father in Heaven.
The Gift of Plentiful Fruit
One beautiful facet of a life shared in Jesus is that when someone shares his or her fruit with us, we always end up with lots to give away without losing any for ourselves.
1 Thessalonians 3:12 winds up with this prayer from Paul: “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you.” We are expected to overflow with fruitfulness, and to give it away.
That’s because we are giving out what we were first bequeathed in abundance by Jesus through his Spirit, so love and peace are available all the time if we are willing to search for them in prayer and in our realization of the miraculous reality that Jesus truly intercedes on our behalf with the Father.
If our God is for us, who can stand against us? (Romans 8:31).
Nothing can crush our peace permanently when we remember this is true.
Godly love and peace are rooted in the very nature of God, not self-made inner strength. The Holy Spirit works in spite of us to reach others.
So as Lynne reached me with the Fruit of the Spirit, she unconsciously reached my kids, my husband, my friends, and my co-workers too.
She filled me with peace by presenting me with a picture of faith and trust, which I was able to share subconsciously simply by the effect she had on me.
Profiting from Good Company
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). The opposite is also true: good company can, potentially, inspire good morals, or just a more peaceful demeanor.
Have you ever noticed how the company you keep starts to rub off; you end up talking like the people you hang out with, or you adopt their mannerisms? Maybe you’ve even started to see the world differently by trying to observe situations through their eyes.
I’ve experienced both the negative and the positive, but I especially remember how, when I spent time with gracious people, I felt more positive. My attitude improved. I wanted to be like them: patient, slow to anger, and gentle.
Over time, it’s my hope to reflect the Fruit of the Spirit in ways that cause other people to feel peaceful and loved. If this ever happens, Jesus will be the one having the positive effect. He will be working through me. And, if yield to God’s sanctifying work on my pride, I won’t even see it happening.
Moments and Monuments
I think of those fifteen minutes with Lynne as an Ebenezer of sorts. She is far too humble to realize, but she would understand if I told her. Lynne can probably remember similar experiences where God spoke into the ordinary and the brief.
I think I will remember our conversation and the way I felt that our Lord was so close, sitting in that big gap between his two daughters. We were just doing something ordinary, which fellow believers do every day, sharing a tiny bite of life.
That fills me with joy because most of life is filled with ordinary, brief encounters like these, and there is no reason for them to stand out except that God is in them with us.
I look forward with expectation to learning more about the Lord through men and women like Lynne who, just by the way they live life consciously before the Lord, subconsciously teach me more about who he is and what it means to become more like Jesus.
We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).
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Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Simon Lehmann
Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.