The house is silent except for the “Plink plink” of Hubs in the next room flipping through the Netfix choices. I’m in the mood to write so I am in our room staring at my Mac screen wondering…..Oh, did you notice the mouse in the picture?
I was gifted this beloved Mac in 2008 by my husband. I am still surprised at such an extravagant purchase from him. I love this laptop and Hubs. Never using a mouse on it until this week, I am sadly realizing that it is slowly becoming undependable. The handy dandy touchpad decided not to offer me a right click or left click anymore. No highlighting, copying/pasting dragging, so not helpful!
So very sad.
This MacBook has been, still is one of my most treasured items. I wrote a book on this laptop. I’ve also written letters to churches about our ministry school, communicated with prospective students on the other side of the world, guided them through the visa process and then created Bible reading schedules, kept track of attendance and prayer requests, and created videos for our promotion booths on this piece of metal and what-not. It is still stuffed with photos of our former students with bright shiny faces even though the school closed over 5 years ago.
My beloved Mac is also full of warm and love-filled letters between me and our students. Little glimpses into lives that were searching for true meaning in life. I could not answer that question for them and I seldom had to. But I did listen to them. Asking more questions than I answered. But it seemed to help.
Earlier today while the sun was shining warmly in my backyard, I sat and looked at the grove of trees behind our house and I thought about those days in our ministry school. I asked myself what parts I missed. I was surprised to suddenly picture myself on the couch in our school office, sitting across from a student as she cried into her hands. I did not even picture a certain student, because it happened more than once over the years.
I was usually terrified…of what I was about to hear…what could I possibly say to help the tears stop…how could I make it better? Sometimes our students had lived much more experienced lives than I had. They had walked through tougher situations and hardship. What could I offer?
My heart would be pounding as they mumbled the ache that overwhelmed them. I know that I appeared calm and wise and ready to help. But I was inwardly begging God to give me the right words and actions for the tender heart in front of me.
There was strategic thought behind moving a couch, even though it was ugly, into our office. Hugging is awkward and uncomfortable when you are in chairs. I’ve had my knees go numb while consoling another on a chair. An arm around trembling shoulders was most often the first need. A hug and silent prayer were my first action on most occasions.
I stumbled through these gentle moments with a broken hearted student who needed answers. I had no clue what I was doing. I am not a counselor or psychologist. I often hated the sound of my own voice as I wondered aloud what God was wanting to show us about Himself in the situation. I sounded wimpy and not at all full of deep wisdom or confident guidance.
But the letters on my Mac now are from students years later who say that it made a difference. They write that those were important moments in their lives. That I helped.
Not every crying or angry meeting in our office ended well. Sometimes I really was no help at all. I was less than what they needed. The interesting surprise is that my Mac holds letters from those students too. They often remember it differently. Warm words come from them now, full of sweet memories of our school and how it impacted their lives in a positive way. All I did was listen.
Sometimes sitting still long enough to listen can be a gift. I believe that God placed me on that couch next to that student so that I could encircle them with arms of flesh that represented His arms. I did not know that at the time. In the middle of the pain, drama and confusion, I was desperately asking God what to say and do for the student in my arms or sitting across the room with folded arms. I tore myself up about not being enough for our students. And I did let some down, I know I did. But even my failure to be what they needed has left them with fond memories of one who listened for a bit.
Looking back I know this now.
You can be doing the right thing and not know it. You can feel like a bumbling idiot and still be Jesus for someone. You do not have to be able to quote the perfect chapter and verse from the Bible to be God for the broken-hearted person in front of you today.
Isn’t that refreshing news?
You are enough. Because HE is in you. You already have everything you need to be HIS ambassador today. Because HE is in you.
It will not always look like a win. You will not always hug that person good-bye with full confidence that you said the right words to heal their pain. It will not feel like a win every time. But sometimes it will be exactly what the hurting heart needed in that moment.
And sometimes you will get a letter years later that tells you that.