Well…last week was fun. My blog post “They Named Me Bold” completely exploded. (You know what’s funny? I posted the link on Twitter at 3 AM EST because I wasn’t sure I was going to keep it up. A friend saw it, posted it in a group, and bam…Friday was over!)
Tuesday evening I was moved to tears by the reach of that little article. I was moved by the honor it is bringing to my mom, who passed away in 2012. More honor for how she lived her life poured out.
After she died I read through her journals. There was a lot she wrestled with during her life, including where her place in ministry was. If you know her, this may be surprising, as she affected so many lives simply through caring for people. My mom served as a pastor’s wife for my entire life. She married my dad just after she turned 20 and lived her life by his side. She stayed home with us. She led by his side but she never took on a lead role.
I read in one of her journals about a time she visited some friends from a former church they pastored who had a baby sick in the children’s hospital. They asked my parents to come and my dad was traveling so she went alone.
“Oh, Lord,” she wrote about the event. “I’m just a fat little preacher’s wife. What do I have to offer?” And yet she gave of herself endlessly.
My mom was unexceptional, really. She didn’t have any theological training, she never attended a leadership conference. Not too many people knew her name. She never spoke to a stadium full of people, she never wrote a book, she never pastored a church.
And yet the ripples from her life continue to fan out in rings around the stillness that is now the center.
It’s against what we tend to believe, and yet it’s not that shocking in an upside-down Kingdom, is it? The little girl who grew up in a smoke-filled trailer becoming a mentor, a safe haven for the hearts of many. A kid who was a nobody growing into a woman who took up much more space in the room than her body did.
And how many of these unexceptional people have thrown us a lifeline? How many women in my life have been so ordinary that the light inside of them was like a sweet, secret treasure – morsels of grace to be shared simply and quietly? Sitting across from them with coffee or pancakes much later than I planned has proven to me to be more healing, more life-giving than people living on a larger scene.
The women in my life who have most shaped me have been these ‘fat little preachers’ wives’ – women who were big enough to hold wisdom and faith about our Father in their hearts, yet present enough to spend their time on me. Women with no pretenses about their importance – who loved me like Jesus would if He were in the room. Women who sought the heart of the Father so well that it seamlessly overflowed in the way they shared their lives with me.
Oh that I might aspire to such heights – to be unexceptional in this way. Oh that I would have enough space in my heart to welcome the lost, the broken, and the too-put-together as well. That I would have the wisdom to spend my time with people who need Jesus rather than the people I want to notice me. That the ripples from my one small life would extend beyond myself long after the center goes still.