You guys, she’s ninety-eight now. Unbelievable, this woman who has been my “mentor mother” all these years. I got a call from her son earlier in the month asking me if I’d come, but I just hadn’t made the time. You know… kids, schedules, work, life. She has good and bad days now, but all signs clearly point to the fact that heaven is near.
She couldn’t remember names of dear friends one minute, but a moment later she was breaking down the Twenty-third Psalm in so much detail that her words sounded like they came straight out of a Bible commentary. I could almost physically see it – it was as if God was opening her mind at that very moment, gracing her with understanding, comfort, and confidence as she looked at death square in the face.
I asked her if she knew that Thanksgiving was coming, and she said yes.
Bound to her recliner other than assisted trips to relieve herself, there would be no celebration for her this year. I quickly offered a personal delivery of mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, rolls and everything else I could think of that might go down easily, but before I could finish, she cut me off and said the most profound thing of the night:
“It’s not food that I crave, Whitney. It’s people.”
Most of the people in your life won’t have the guts to tell you straight up, but when you’re ninety-eight, you let go of some of your previous filters and go ahead and say it like it is.
People matter more, and we’re seriously messing it up.
She’s told me a million times before and every time I brushed it off, chalking it up to generational differences. But this time her final days demanded my attention, and I let each heavy word soak in deeper than before…
People today don’t visit with each other anymore.
They’re always in a hurry. Overcommitted.
They’re consumed with themselves and the next best thing.
They’re easily distracted. Rarely satisfied.
People matter more, and they often get our worst. From big picture tragedy that floods our newsfeeds, down to the words thrown around carelessly within the walls of our very own homes, we’ve forgotten how to look beyond ourselves and love people generously.
Are you gathering for Thanksgiving this week?
Trust me when I say that no one cares nearly as much as you do about thickened gravy or lumpy potatoes.
They’re not looking at your fingerprinted walls or the stains on your carpet.
They aren’t obsessed with that ten pounds you gained or whether or not your entire family shows up in brand new color coordinated outfits.
They didn’t come to focus on your landscaping, the square footage of your house, your mismatched silverware, and they probably won’t remember your well thought out centerpieces a week from now.
But they’ll remember how you treated them.
It took spending time with the dying this week to be reminded that I have a whole lot of living to do.
So this Thanksgiving, I’m putting away my smart phone.
I’m simplifying my menu and I’m allowing others to pitch in.
I’m scrapping my plans for dreamy Pinterest-inspired décor to make way for my kids’ homemade creations made out of faded construction paper.
Instead of obsessing over a perfectly put-together house, I’ll shove a few cluttered piles in closets beforehand and will wait to deep clean until after my guests are gone.
I won’t freak out if the turkey is dry, if someone spills cranberry sauce on my cream-colored placemats or if my kids track mud through my living room after a rowdy game of backyard football. As a matter of fact, I’m already telling myself that these things are most likely going to happen.
Instead, by God’s grace, I’ll be patient. I’ll sit. I’ll listen. And I’ll behave as if people matter more.
Because we’ll be together. We’ll be making memories. We’ll be loving. And we’ll be living.
Because we’re never guaranteed tomorrow, I’d rather them see Jesus in me…
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~ Matthew 22:36-40
At His feet,
*LET’S TALK: How might you need to alter your plans in order to love people well this holiday season?