Pulling out of my neighborhood a few days ago, I ran through my mental checklist. I had conquered the morning routine and had exactly 33 minutes for a quick work out before heading to the Little Sprouts program I’d eagerly signed up for with my youngest, but was now regretting. Not enough time this morning! Just as I sighed and turned the corner, I saw them.
My fourth grade neighbor was racing toward school, and his mom trailed at least six paces behind. Recently diagnosed with breast cancer, she worked hard to keep up with him, but a drainage pump banged against her leg and she fell further behind. Realizing he’d missed the bus, I knew what I had to do.
I pulled over and flagged down the young neighbor. “Need a ride?,” I called. He hesitated and looked back toward his mom, who wildly gestured for him to take the help. With just a moment left before the first bell, he clamored into my mini van, and I peeled out for the school.
Moments later, after pulling through the loop for drop-off, I smiled the feeling of satisfaction that comes from helping another…and not falling too far off of my own schedule. Two minutes was all it took to do good. I could still work out! Sweet.
I chattered away with my three-year-old, who was quite excited by our brief guest-rider, as we headed for the gym. As we were nearing our destination, we came to a red light. That’s when I saw it: the neighbor kid’s lunch box.
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! This cannot be happening! Not now! I have exactly 31 minutes to work out!
With a deep sigh, I pulled into a neighborhood to u-turn, and prayed aloud for God to reorient my heart, too.
Help me to remember that people are always the most important, God…that serving others is my highest call.
The truth is, serving one another is rarely, if ever, convenient. Picking up on the opportunities to help a neighbor or even a stranger requires that I let other things go.
Less time for me. Less chance for down time. Less opportunity for the ever elusive workout. Less pages read in the books on my nightstand. LESS.
Ironically, the very neighbor-mom whom I found myself serving on this day had shared with me just a week earlier this verse: “He must become greater; I must become less.” -John 3:30 To her, it was a funny way to make my sad eyes smile as we discussed her cancer and treatment. To me, those words are a formidable challenge.
God is growing me here. Often, there is still too much of me in the mix. I protect my time like a mother cub looks after her baby, and I am reticent to give over a piece of my scheduled morning to help someone in need. So, God gives me the gift of a camouflaged lunchbox to help me see what is hiding in my heart. And He gives me the opportunity to make a choice.
Ten minutes later, the front desk woman looks at me incredulously as I try to explain how I have the lunchbox of a certain grade schooler who is not my child – whose name I can recall, but whose teacher has escaped me. “You can find him…,” I nervously exhorted and questioned, all at once, as my voice trailed off. She nodded in my direction.
They found him. I know, because later that day, he bounded off the bus, empty lunchbox in hand and offered a shy smile.
“Hey, thanks for the ride this morning. I really appreciated it.” No problem, I told him.
No, no problem. It turns out less of me is always something to feel good about.