When my daughter-in-law with four kids under six needed a break this week, “Mimi” stepped in. If you get to do your life over, ask for Mimi as a field trip leader. Having raised three of her own and now helping raise eight grandchildren, I can attest she has not lost her knack.
One of her gifts is activation: “make it happen – here we go!” I’d say it took no more than 15 minutes for her to grab the appropriate food, drinks, blanket and art supplies before she was headed out the door. She was intending to take the three oldest biking. That was going to be problematic so she shifted in mid stride and took them on a hike instead, one the two of us had enjoyed just a few weeks earlier.Yes, one of children had to be soldiered on when they got upset about getting their new shoes muddy, and yes they weren’t all agreed on the activity of choice, and yes, one was real tired on the hike back and slowed up the group who desperately needed a bathroom – but 10 years from now, that will not be what is remembered.
How can I tell? The one who didn’t want to go said – “I didn’t know this was going to be so much fun!” And another proclaimed loudly to their mom when they returned: “we had a great adventure with Mimi!”
What was the great adventure?
- a walk in the woods
- a picnic lunch by a stream into which you could throw rocks
- and an attempt at sketching nature outdoors.
But Mimi gave of her time and talents. She shared with that hiking party loves of her own: nature, the outdoors, art. She focused on them – helping them through their weaknesses, remembering and highlighting their delights, and keeping the company on the adventure at hand.
These events are called life and love. They shape people and cumulatively forge desires, character, purpose and hope. They are not cinematic. They are real, often messy, never without incident.
The point? What are your gifts and strengths? Don’t feel compelled to love in the way someone else does. You have talents and bents unique to you, appreciated by others. Maybe it’s a love for literature and the resources to purchase them for others. You could be real good at organizing clutter or getting technology to work right. Maybe you are just a real good listener.
It is in the sharing of those attributes with one another that living and loving happens.