“We Was Just Here”

The small gathering we attend on Sunday mornings offers a sharing time at the end of the service, a time for offering reflections on the sermon, for introducing guests, for requesting prayer or reporting praise. Most churches do not include such a thing in their regular meetings; this may be due to time constraints or the size of the congregation, but I suspect it may also be a form of protection. People are unpredictable; you never know what they might say.

We had a number of visitors among us yesterday; the executive director of the ministry retired at the end of January and people came from far and wide to celebrate his thirty-six years (thirty-six years!) of faithful service. During sharing time, each was asked to stand and share a bit about themselves and their relationship to this place, to tell us what brought them here. There were those who were younger, with recent ties, faces I recognized, and there were those that were, well, older.

This man certainly fell in that latter category; the date he gave for when he and his wife had been a part of the ministry was just one year after I was born. He didn’t share much, but what he did say stuck with me:

“We wasn’t staff, and we wasn’t interns. We was just here. And that’s it.”

He sat back down to smiles and titters, but the executive director was quick to stand, to proclaim with laughter in his voice:ย “No. That’s not it.”

He went on to list accomplishments and achievements, ways that this couple had blessed the ministry, things that had happened nearly thirty years ago but are still remembered by those who were here at the time. Their presence here had made a difference. Their time had mattered.

And I wonder how often I make the same mistake of devaluing what I have to offer, how often I think I must be doing something more, must be contributing in some bigger way for my life to count, for my time to make a difference. I wonder how often I confuse doing and being, how often I place priority on action over presence. In this season, especially, one of slow days with an infant, one where Jonathan comes home from work and I cannot for the life of me put into words how I spent the past ten hours, it is easy to berate myself for not accomplishing, for not completing, for not doing. It is easy to add that little word – “just” – and in so doing, dismiss the importance of being present, really present.

“I was just here. That’s it,” I say, except it isn’t it. Not by a long shot. I am here, I am present, I am available, and that makes all the difference in the world.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Loving Others

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4 Responses to “We Was Just Here”

  1. Linda Hohns says:

    Jenn, I posted this today, from a devotion I look at on line called, “In Green Pastures.” Perhaps you will find this comforting and affirming. I believe you are right where God would have you. Seasons of service – you have had many in your young life, and now a most special time you have been gifted with. Embrace it and do not question or rate the significance of it, comparing to anything else. You have served mightily outside your home. You are now serving mightily within your home.

    Serving Christ at Home

    Many people think that work for Christ must be something outside, something great or public. They imagine that to minister to Christ, they must teach a Sunday-school class or join a missionary society, or go out to visit sick people, or go into hospitals or prisons on missions of mercy. These are all beautiful and important ministries, and Christ wants some of you to do just these things too; but the very first place you are to serve him is in your own home. Let the blessed light of your life, first be shed abroad in that most sacred of all spots. Brightening that little place, you will be the more ready to be a blessing outside. Those who are the best Christians at homeโ€”are the best everywhere else.

    • Jenn says:

      Thank you for your encouragement, Linda. While I know in my head that everything you’ve said is true, it’s always good to hear it from others. Sometimes, that’s what it takes for it to sink in, I think. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Adrienne says:

    Hi there. I have heard about you for a long time! I am married to Art Echternacht the younger, we have a baby who just turned two. Oh man… how I can RELATE to this post. I struggle with this all the time. It doesn’t help how unrecognized the tedious work of mothers goes in the regular world. I felt SO MUCH MORE purpose BEFORE I had a child (Ironically!)… I performed shows playing and singing piano, did art shows, was a graphic design student, and I felt well loved, never had a dull moment in my life! Now my social life is almost non existent, I never get to play music, I hardly ever have moment to do much of anything anymore besides exercise and list a few things on ebay. And yet I am raising a little boy, what a strange trade. To probably be doing the single most important thing of my life and yet to feel the least purpose in my life and to feel the least appreciated. Knowing God has got my back helps incredibly. To every thing there is a season, and so it goes. I’m loving reading your blog, Grandma Marion directed me here ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jenn says:

      I’m so glad you stopped by, Adrienne! I can definitely relate to the struggle to find purpose in the mundane aspects of being a mom, while knowing that it’s the most important thing I could be doing. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’d love to hang out sometime – maybe grab coffee or go to a park so your little one could burn off energy. Sounds like we have some things in common (though I must warn you – I am not artsy whatsoever!). If that sounds good to you, Grandma Marion has my contact info, or you can drop me an email. ๐Ÿ™‚

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