NATIONAL PARK CHURCH blog
My nature is to nurture, but sometimes I go at it like a sprint, not a jog. My heart’s will and its endurance are not necessarily in sync, sometimes rendering more commitment than capacity on my part. As a result, I often find myself emotionally breathless, having to sit out the next leg of the race until I can build back steam. Do you ever feel that time or limitations dictate how you run your race?
I once read that most of us can only successfully nurture about five close relationships at any given time. That makes sense to me, because when I try to gather too many chicks under my wing, I start to fade fast. I would be thrilled to say that I can prepare a casserole for every occasion, attend each gathering or Bible study fellowship among my circle of friends, pen greeting cards to the masses, and be the ever-present shoulder to lean upon; but the reality is that I do not juggle all of that very well at the same time. For those of you who have mastered being Mary, Martha, and Dorcas all at once, hats off to you. I aspire to your example of excellence, but I’m not there yet and, frankly, do not foresee it in the near future. I often beat myself up for it, too, desiring to do more good works and be more available than I can effectively manage.
Instead, my prayer is that I can greet others with a genuine smile and kind words...to listen so that they feel heard...to carve out time weekly for a few phone calls, texts, and even lunch with those who simply need their grieving hearts heard. As Maya Angelou so perfectly penned, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” So, on my kitchen wall I have a handmade sign, a gift from my daughter, which reminds me, “Find a way to lift someone up.”
I find that a kind word, a hug, or a listening ear goes a long way in letting people know you care, because everyone is struggling with something. Some of our challenges are obvious, like my being a widow or perhaps someone else’s physical ailment, and are open for the world to see. Others may be less apparent. Sometimes, we tend to compare, thinking that no one can possibly be going through the depth of pain that we are. Hopefully, though, we can remind ourselves that whatever others’ struggles are, those may be the worst experiences of their lives, whether we deem them minor in comparison to ours or not. I recently heard a statement that helped me put this into perspective. “It doesn’t matter if you are in 30 feet of water or 60 feet of water, if you struggling for air, you are still drowning.”
We all have it within us to be a blessing in some way. What might be considered by some as a small effort may be a major blessing to others. Recently, I was visiting with someone before worship services began. She took my hand, looked straight into my eyes and said, “I want you to know that I have been praying for you. I mean REALLY praying for you.” That meant more to me than I can describe here. In her own challenging life, prayer is currently her main ministry, for which I am so thankful. In her tone and in her eyes, I heard and saw the love of Jesus.
If you are at a point in this season of your life, young or old, for whatever reason, where you are struggling with the conflict that you can not do as much as you would like to minister unto others, my hope is that you will follow the example of this sweet sister who was such a blessing to me. I would encourage each of you to examine your gifts and intentionally find a way to use those to lift someone up. Your gifts will not be the same as others, but none are too small in His service. And, please, please remember to give yourself grace when you only have the stamina to jog, not sprint. We are all winners in this race.