You just never know…
Updated: Feb 15
I was picking up my daughter from (one of her many) jobs. She works as a seamstress for a woman with a home business. The business is thriving, and there’s always a million prom dresses, wedding gowns, reenactment costumes, diapers for monkeys and an array of last minute skirts and dresses to do.
Along with the sewing, there are relationship dynamics. The woman has a family as well as another lady working with her. It’s a full, crazy home–filled with bustle, activities, fabric, thread, and newsy stuff. I think it’s just the kind of energy level I like– a lot of stuff going on at once.
So, I was picking up my daughter, and there was a woman there who looked familiar. I couldn’t place where I knew her from.
“Do you homeschool?” I asked her, going through my mental rolodex quickly, sifting through the 8,000 people I may or may not remember.
“Yeah.. We met at Hallstrom..” she answered. And I was still not remembering much. But I asked about her kids and such. She said, “I have the two bad boys..”
And Joanna piped in, “Oh, no! I’m sure your boys are not bad. We were horrible when we were little…” etc.
And I was still not recalling any details. “I’m sure your boys were fine! I don’t remember any bad little boys..”
And I think we closed with some pleasantries and left.
When I got home, I got to thinking about it. “Oh Jo! This is horrible. That lady that you were sewing with.. I remember now… She couldn’t stand me. I tried everything I could do to reach out to her, and I got no response. Every time I tried to talk to her, she acted like I was bothering her.. I’m so sorry..”
Granted. I’m not reeling in pain over the situation and have clearly blocked it out of my mind. But I feel bad for Jo who is working with a woman who thinks her mother is a nuisance.
The next day, Jo comes bounding into the house.
“Hey Mom. You remember that lady that you thought didn’t like you? “
“You were the only reason she was able to make it through her year at Hallstrom. She loves you.”
“You were the only one who reached out to her. You tried to help with her boys. You talked to her..”
But Wow! This realization blew my hair back. I clearly thought I failed at this encouragement attempt. At the same time that I was trying to encourage this woman, there was another woman with young children who was coming that same year. I can’t remember exactly what I did, the other woman took me aside and told me to leave her alone and that we were “not friends” etc. etc.
It was such an unusual response to my attempts at trying to reach out to the new families that I kind of was dumbfounded and just assumed all of my attempts were futile.
I just figured that I clearly “didn’t have IT”– whatever “it” is.
And now–over a year after the whole thing– in a random meeting–in an unusual place– I hear this positive response from an almost stranger.
Now hear me out. I am not writing this so that you can all put in the comments how awesome I am or encouraging I am or something lame like that. Please don’t.
The point I am making is this. We clearly do not have the big picture of what God may be doing through us when we are attempting ministry. What we consider a success may not be so much in God’s eyes. And what we erase in our minds as a failed attempt, may be the big reason we were there doing xyz in the first place.
I am more and more convinced that I do not have a “clue bird” of what God wants to do to me. The best I can do for him does not always involve trying to “figure it out” beforehand. If I walk with him, confess my sins and try to listen to him, moment by moment–that is clearly the BEST I can do for HIM. And the results? Those are not something we need to worry about either.
It’s very freeing. It’s O.K. to take risks. It’s even O.K. to fail. But it’s not O.K. to obsess about what may or may not be happening about the many things out of our control.