We couldn’t find my seventy-five-year-old mother. I chatted with her each night after my dad died, but this time, calls to her home phone and cell phone went unanswered.
Due to vision problems, she’d told me, “I just don’t drive after dark anymore,” but it was after 9:00 PM. Her neighbor fretted when I called because Mama’s car was missing. Her best friend had not talked to her that evening. Therefore, my husband drove twenty-five miles to a neighboring county to check her calendar and phone messages before calling the sheriff’s department.
Shortly before he arrived, the neighbor called to tell us my mom was home. When I inquired about her whereabouts, Mama answered, “They needed someone at the church to help people coming in for directory pictures. I figured that was something I could do to help. I’m sorry I worried you.”
Something she could do to help. Yep, that sounded like my mother. When her health was failing, she’d sometimes say, “You know I had a little pity party today thinking about myself. Then I thought, ‘Sadie, God has blessed you, and there are lots of folks who have more troubles than you. You get yourself out to help someone else tomorrow.’”
And she would. That’s how she lived—looking for ways to encourage and help others. Instead of focusing on herself, she turned her gaze to the Lord and other people. She modeled for us a verse where Paul quoted an Old Testament command.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:14 ESV
Her conversation came to mind today while I was suffering from bronchitis and sinus infection which prompted whining that I’d miss fun family activities this weekend. When I tired of the bed and recliner, I walked around the house and enjoyed the window view of lovely flowering trees. God drew my attention to nearby houses and the people who live in them. Here’s what I realized:
- One neighbor was recovering from surgery while her husband helped his father after a heart procedure at the hospital.
- Two lonely widowers often walk by our house—one with a cane and one with a dog.
- Another neighbor who is my age is disabled and lives alone.
- In another direction, there’s a busy family with two children and two working parents.
And I was whining because I am too sick to join in family activities this weekend. I—the one in a warm home with medicine, a comfortable bed, a loving husband, and a sweet daughter-in-love who delivered delicious chicken soup and bread for lunch. I—the one who caught up on Bible reading and started a new novel while I was resting. I—the one who has a daughter and friends calling and checking on her. I—the one who has a Savior who loves her and cares for her. Yes, that girl was me.
It was time for the “Sadie attitude,” as my family calls it. I texted my next-door friend to see if she needed anything and prayed for other neighbors. I recalled prayer requests I’d read on Facebook and lifted those to the Lord. Neighbors include all we meet. As gratitude grew in my heart and love for others consumed my thoughts, I thanked God for leading me out of the pity party and to a celebration of gratitude and loving my neighbors. He forgives and I learn.
Heavenly Father, forgive me for complaining. I’m disappointed about missing weekend plans, but I am thankful for my blessings. I can’t do much while I’m sick, but remind me to love others by lifting them in prayer and encouraging them by deed as You guide me. In the name of Jesus, I pray and praise You. Amen.
Would you share ways you extend the Lord’s love to those you know or ways they have extended love to you? We’ll all learn from your examples.