On the way to my meet up with other moms and kiddos I stop at the mailbox and grab a handful. Two pieces of mail hand addressed with my name there. The specialness oozes off the pearly white envelope and I rip them open and read.
My eyes glance down to read the cover of a beautiful card. The words speak sweet encouragment, “It’s what we do for Christ in the HERE and NOW that will make a difference in the then and there.” — Max Lucado. And inside it reads, Thanks for making an eternal difference.
I open it and the eyes of my heart follow like a trail of sweet bread crumbs each individual cryptic signature. Each one precious. Each one is that of a child. And I feel like I have been bunched in the stomache. I am almost breatheless. This card was not meant for me.
Looking for clues, I look for a return address and an adult’s name somewhere so I can return this card to the intended recipient. I search my mind for someone’s name in town who is easily confused with my name. I plan my route after my scheduled appointment. I will go to the school and find which class these children are in. I believe this card, so ripe with thank-you’s, bursting with gratitude is meant for a teacher.
“To the loved; a word of affection is a morsel, but to the love-starved, a word of affection can be a feast.”– Max Lucado
I had wanted to feast on the gratitude. I wanted to swim in the sentiment dellivered by children’s sweet fingers and hands. I want to prop up this card in my kitchen and rest for days in the love and the thanks that so tenderly lived on this cardboard rectangle.
At lunch, I ask my friends to help me review the clues so I can deliver this note to the deserving one. We study, we stare, we think, we problem solve, we read each child’s name to see what the connection might be, the common thread, why they are thanking, why they feel grateful, what group are they a part of, what do they have in common, these kids.
For an hour my mind is racing and I am rattled by guilt. Why haven’t I done more. Why don’t I do more. How can I make an eternal difference in the lives of children. Am I making an eternal difference in the life of my three. There are opportunities I have missed. Things left unsaid. Times I could have stepped up and served. Missed chances to make that elusive eternal difference.
With all of the graduations this month of nieces and children and friends, I want to graduate too. I want to step off the podium with a diploma in hand. My heart needs to move on and close out the chapter I am stuck on entitled “Guilt” and “Shame.” Because I let a card sear my heart with guilt. And worry and anxiety about balance and volunteering and helping and doing and being.
“When grace moves in…guilt moves out.”– Max Lucado
I want a passing grade in the class on “How Not To Get Entangled In Comparison, It Will Rob Your Joy.”
I just know I will smile and pass this card on to the deserving woman who has made an eternal difference. Before the day is over, she will be so blessed to receive a note that was penned in love for her.
We sit and chat over lunch and I am pondering how I can serve more, and better and how and where and what will it look like. And suddenly the mystery is solved.
There was another piece of mail for me that day. It was beautifully handwritten and it was gracious in its thank-you’s. Each line of gratefulness inspired me to serve and use the gifts God has given me more often. But beyond that it inspired me to thank more often with the written word. I read the note three times or more. It was gracious and lovely and a gift in itself. I had helped at a luncheon but I was the one who was infused with fellowship and laughter and left holding wonderful memories of women together doing community. It was I who was helped, re-charged, and re-invigorated by women fellowshipping together, laughing together, and showing gratitude together. The note was kind and it inspires me to thank in that way much more often.
So two notes in my mailbox lead me to Max Lucado’s loving word.
“Lower your expectations on earth. This isn’t heaven, so don’t expect it to be.”–Max Lucado
And the children were grateful. And the card about doing and making a difference was meant for me. I had supplied pizza for my two teenagers youth group and they graciously thanked me.
But the gift was that I was stirred to give guilt-free pondering on how to serve in my community. Once I settled down from my knee-jerk reaction of loads of guilt and racing thoughts about finding the woman who I am comparing myself to. And giving her the card. The one that was intended for me.
Comparing myself always and everytime to others leaves a feeling of less than. Of being not enough.
I want to hold on to the diploma marked “Grace”. And to politely usher out the guilt that wants to rob me of Joy.
What about you.
Thank you God for your loving, Amazing Grace. Amen? Amen!