a place of abundance

"we went through fire and through water, yet You brought us out into a place of abundance" Psalm 66:12b

One Glimpse April 29, 2011

Filed under: perspective,spiritual life — vivmabuni @ 12:30 pm

A few days ago my dear friend, Danielle, paid a surprise visit and stopped by after a home schoolers field trip in our neck of the woods. I had not seen her in over a year. I had just finished picking Jonathan up from school. Max, our dog, was still in the car and the garage door was up. I caught sight of a familiar face that I couldn’t place as her middle daughter walked  around the far edge of the driveway. I finally walked out the front door and saw Danielle. “Yippee’s” and squeals as I excitedly raced to her minivan and greeted her crew of three kids, six and under. In my mind’s eye, I saw snap shots of memories with Danielle: meeting her as a freshman at UCLA, talking in the dorms on summer project in East Asia, hearing her voice singing worship songs to Jonathan when she would babysit, laughing at her fun dance routines from high school, the Pledgewagon, hearing stories of her adventures on Stint in France… Ah, Danielle, always a special place in my heart reserved for her.

Her youngest had fallen asleep in the car seat and her two older ones wanted to play on the swing set in the back yard. We decided to open the front door and sit inside the house so we could keep an eye on the front and back simultaneously. I welcomed her into our house. Dog hair on the ground, sticky kitchen floor, BUT for some reason I had decided to straighten up the living room and clean up the kitchen earlier in the day. I also had pulled out the bread maker and was baking bread (uh, it’s been maybe a year since the last time I did that), had a beef stew going in the crock pot, had gone to the market so I was able to offer her kids juice boxes and brownies, bananas and other snacks. Jonathan went and picked up his siblings for me to give us more time to catch up. Julia returned home and willingly shared her toys and played with the kids.

And after they left I laughed.

It occurred to me how quickly I make judgements about others based on a glimpse. Danielle, could (I hope not) conclude that I was a wizard-super-organized, got it together mom because my kitchen was on the cleaner side and I had dinner going and it was only two and my kids were polite and helpful. Oh, BUT, if she had come the day BEFORE, it would have been a whole different story. Dishes filling the sinks and counters, no food, newspapers and junk strewn about the house…or even, like, RIGHT NOW (same EXACT description except the kitchen floor is now even stickier). But she happened to catch a glimpse at just the right moment between order and chaos, peace and conflict, helpfulness and complaining. I live in both and to conclude that I am doing either a good or bad job based on a glimpse is just not an accurate portrayal of the whole story.

Lots of times I read of great heroes and of people I want to emulate. But unfortunately, I only catch a glimpse of their lives. Susanna Wesley bore nineteen babies and ten reached adulthood. She was the mother of John and Charles Wesley, who are on many “Christian heroes” lists. John is the founder of the Methodist church, Charles wrote most of the most famous hymns. She homeschooled them all in theology, Latin, Greek, and often from a sick-bed. She was rigid, orderly methodical (ala Methodism) and her husband, Samuel Wesley, described as an easygoing, spend thrift was away for months on end. One book I read described that her strict ways drove him away. There was no money for decent clothing. Everything went to feeding the family and funding their dad’s get-rich schemes.  Their oldest daughter, Emilia, picked up the slack when her mother was too weak physically and helped with the children and housework all of her childhood. She married a man she didn’t love because she was sick of working and wanted to rest, be treated well and taken care after always caring for others. Unfortunately, her husband, Rob Harper, wanted to quit work, take it easy and be kept by a successful woman. He left Emilia after their baby was born, taking her savings and leaving her his debts. Now, I know that Susanna did have qualities that were admirable, but until I read about her daughter, I had always held her on a pedestal. Clearly, there were also some major misses. And without actually being there, I cannot play judge on either side because I only have a glimpse.

Before Danielle arrived I was out walking Max. An older lady in our neighborhood watched from her driveway as Max and I rounded the corner. I waved and she said, “What a beautiful dog! He sure walks well.” Max was loose leash, walking obediently beside me. I welled up with Dog Whisperer pride and replied, “We have loved having him.” And just then, across the street another lady was walking her little dog. One whiff, and Max was yanking me along, trying to cross the street, whimpering at the little ball of white fluff trotting along the sidewalk.

One glimpse.

I’m still laughing.


6 Responses to “One Glimpse”

  1. Auntie Simone Says:

    How true! How reassuring it is that the God who sees our whole lives delights in us, not because we perform well, look good, or have it all together, but simply, because we are His.

    • vivmabuni Says:

      I agree, Simone! It is comforting to be seen and accepted and loved because we belong to Him. “Not because of what we’ve done, but because of who You are” (words from Casting Crowns song). Reminds me of when the kids were babies and how they couldn’t “do” anything except produce stinky diapers and keep us up all hours, but the delight and fierce, protective love we had for them was unmatched–and still is.

  2. onesam Says:

    thanks for the glimpse of you – your life – Danielle too… Steeping in my own confict/chaos/clean/clutter/calm… Blesses me deeply Viv xo Sam

    • vivmabuni Says:

      Thanks, Sam, for reading and commenting! I am thankful that you are someone that glimpses a fuller picture of me as I learn to hold both good and bad. You are a blessing. Truly.

  3. Sam Says:

    I guess Max just wants to keep everyone in a healthy, accurate perspective! Thanks so much for sharing, Viv. We just got back from PSW Spring Staff Retreat, and I so often admire those “phantom staff”– those older, seasoned, unbelievably wise, perfectly caring staff people with fruitful ministries, adoring spouses, kids who are more spiritually mature than I am at twice their age… and I still love and admire them, but it’s so good to remember everyone’s humanness.

    • vivmabuni Says:

      I struggle with “phantom staff” stuff, too. One thing that I have found helpful besides the children’s book, “Everybody Poops” is reading about leadership and seeing that sometimes the most “successful” leaders actually come from very broken places. Their leadership is a testimony of God’s redemption, but sometimes underneath the driveness is deep woundedness. One of my favorite quotes is from Darrin. He says, “The older I get, the less impressed I am with people.” The funny thing is that the students you work with think the same of you, Sam. They admire and love you and think you hung the moon. And with good reason. But I would put money on the biggest impact being the times when you allow them to see your struggles and humanness. Grace is only internalized and kneaded into our lives through failure. Love you, Sam!!!

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