Wherever You Are, Be All There
I ran away from home last weekend. Well, not really, but I did leave the kids with my husband, drove to Weatherford, and hunkered down for two & a half days of scrapbooking. I’m always amused at the way my car is loaded when I go on these retreats: about seven ginormous bags of scrapbooking supplies and one tiny little duffel bag with pajamas, underwear, and a toothbrush. I’m even more amused at some of the women I encounter on these retreats. They look so darn cute when they crop – hair coiffed, makeup applied, jewelry sparkling. Hello?!? I don’t even pack my makeup bag for these weekends! I’m not there to look good. Heck, I’m not even here to smell good (yes, I did take a shower this weekend – once). I come to WORK!
And work I did. I was on a mission to crank out those pages like a mad woman. Unfortunately, a couple of aforementioned ladies sitting directly behind me did not share my determined purpose. They needed to discuss their suburban life in great detail – from teacher conferences to tennis matches to gossip about their neighbors. I don’t think they took a breath the entire weekend, and they worked on the same layouts for hours and hours. Coordinating my color pallets with my embellishments and photographs was extremely difficult while overhearing the chatter about Little Susie’s soccer games and the team’s coordinating hair bows.
So I turned on my trusty MP3 player, stuck my headphones deep into my ear canals, and cranked up the volume. Now I was on a roll! I tuned everyone out, kept my head down, and let the creative juices flow. (If I don’t hear you well this morning, it is probably temporary hearing loss due to excessively loud Chris Daughtry.) Two days and fifty-two pages later (didja catch that? FIFTY-TWO PAGES!), I was quite satisfied with myself and my remarkable ability to become my own little island.
Mostly. One tiny incident slightly tarnished the shiny gold medal I had awarded myself. On the last day during the final hours, I got up from my seat to refill my water glass when I was stopped by a woman who had been sitting ten feet from me for the last two days. (What was her name again?) She had heard through a mutual friend that my nine year old daughter and her seven year old son share some of the same struggles, and she was asking for advice on how to deal with it, especially since I have been somewhat seasoned in this struggle and have found some success. I’m always happy to talk with other moms with a child like mine, and I have discovered a lot of great strategies and solutions to share. I truly believe God allows us to struggle so we can encourage others, and I’m glad to do it. But this particular morning, I was distracted. We talked and relayed our experiences for a few minutes, but in the back of my mind, I kept thinking, I have work to do! I only have three more hours left, and I’m almost done with this layout. “Why don’t you give me your email address?” I finally said. The conversation was finished, and I went back to work to complete Page Forty-Nine.
Later that day, as I was driving my big ol’ puffed-up head home, God whispered. I sent you both there to this place in that moment for a reason. What was more important: encouraging her, or finishing one more page?
Why could I not be 100% in that moment? Why could I not sense God’s prompting to help and encourage a confused, hurting sister? Have I become so focused and task-oriented that I ignore what is right in front of me? Or have I become so selfish in preserving my “me time” that I resent anyone intruding upon it?
Either scenario does not describe the person I want to be. I thought on that, chewed on it, prayed about it – and yet this afternoon, I really fought putting down my newly-arrived catalog when my son asked me to read him a book. Just a minute. Let me finish this first. Shame on me. Will I ever learn?
Jim Elliot said it well: “Wherever you are – be all there.” Be all there when your child wants to read his favorite book (again). Be all there when he prolongs the story time with constant questions and observations. Be all there when she is giggling in the bathtub. Be all there when he tells you in great detail about his imaginary friend and the games they play. Be all there when she asks you to play dress-up with her.
We are here – at this moment, in this time, in this place – for a purpose. It may not always seem like the highest calling or the most enjoyable situation, but He has a reason. Be. All. There.