This post is part of my “stories” series. In this series, I share stories of how people live their lives in response to the gospel and as a demonstration of God’s love in order to teach us and to provide an example to provoke us to love and good works. (See “stories: A New Series” for more information about this series.)
Since today is my twentieth wedding anniversary, I thought I would start my “stories” series by talking about my wife. (Yes, I know that its hard to believe that someone would stay married to me for 20 years, but I promise that its true.)
I met Margaret when we were both 10 years old, so we’ve known each other for more than 30 years. In that time, I’ve never heard her use the term “missional”, not even recently when that word seems to be everywhere. But, I have learned more about missional living from her than from anyone else.
She has always been a caring person; the type of person that is deeply affected by other people’s circumstances and emotions. She truly rejoices when others rejoice and weeps when other weep. People notice this about her too, and people love to talk to her – to share their struggles with her.
Another reason that people like to talk to Margaret is that she is very accepting and not judgmental at all. In fact, she finds it easier to accept other people’s faults than to accept her own faults.
These two traits (empathy and acceptance) work together in Margaret to drive her to action. When someone tells her their problems, she wants to serve, comfort, and help. She cannot sit idly by while other people struggle alone. She wants to be part of their struggle. But, she goes beyond “wanting” to help; she actually helps people, giving of herself over and over again.
I’ve seen her comfort someone for hours. She’s made more meals for people than I can count. She’s taken care of people’s children and houses and pets when they could not do it for themselves. She’s given money to people in need – money that she had saved to buy something for herself.
Last fall, Margaret was talking with one of the elderly ladies who lives in government assisted housing development. The lady told Margaret that the housing authority does not rake their leaves. Within a week, Margaret had asked her friends to help her rake leaves. We raked leaves for 6 housing units.
Another time, Margaret was talking with one of the elderly ladies who had been sick. The lady said that she was resting so that she could wash her dishes, because she had not felt like washing them for a few days. Without asking or being asked, Margaret immediately went into the lady’s kitchen and washed her dishes.
These are not out of the ordinary occurrences. She does these kinds of things all the time.
Little things? Yes, these are little things. But, I believe that “missional living” is found more in the little things – the everyday things – the ordinary things – than in the great things. God has taught me how to care for people, how to love them, and how to serve them by watching and imitating Margaret.
I thank God for 20 years with my missional wife. I look forward to many more years.
(Update: I wrote this article several weeks ago. After I wrote it, Margaret’s father had heart problems and underwent bypass surgery. He’s doing well, but he will have a long recovery ahead of him. Margaret once again demonstrated that she’s a servant by staying with her parents for 2-3 weeks to help them through his recovery process. I miss her greatly, but I’m so proud of her decision to serve them.)