Thankful It Takes a Village for Adults, Too
Thankful

Regardless of your political persuasion or opinion of the author of a book by a similar title, I’ve learned “it takes a village” for adults, too.

It’s been more than a year since I experienced the most significant loss of my life. The loss of my better half left me feeling disconnected. Not only disconnected but helpless and overwhelmed at all the things it took two people to handle over forty years.

That’s when my village stepped in.

It started with the memorial service as friends created the photo slideshow, decorated the church fellowship hall, and provided a generous meal for 300 people.

In the year that followed:

  • A neighbor volunteered to pressure clean and seal my driveway and then repaired and adjusted all the sprinkler heads in the irrigation system.
  • This same neighbor repaired 2 patio doors and my garage door and cleared my gutter of wayward plants.
  • A friend repaired a leaking doorframe.
  • A friend from church repaired a couple of leaking faucets.
  • Another friend from church arranged for the maintenance and repair of my lawnmower – and took care of the pick-up and delivery.
  • Two friends from church trimmed palm fronds and seed pods around my home.
  • A friend from my previous church repaired a broken roof truss.
  • Another neighbor spent hours replacing my garbage disposal and kitchen faucet.
  • That same neighbor arranged for the repair of some minor body damage on my car.
  • Yet another neighbor brought meals many times.

And this list is by no means complete.

Even contractors and service personnel—total strangers—went above and beyond to provide not just what I needed but added little extras with a dose of kindness.

With each act of compassion, my sense of feeling overwhelmed dissipated.

These experiences taught me it’s okay to ask for help. I was so used to helping others that asking for it seemed foreign…and somehow wrong. But what was wrong is the pride that didn’t want to receive what God had equipped others to give. Equally important, by not asking, I was denying others the blessing of being a blessing to me.

That joy and blessing flowed both ways.

In Philippians 2:4, the apostle Paul wrote, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (ESV).

So my question to you is, where are you in your village? Are you feeling overwhelmed, but reluctant to ask for help? Are you wanting to help, but don’t know where to start?

Your village needs you. It needs you to both give and receive. John Donne understood this when he wrote:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.

And the Bible tells us Christians are all members of one body—the Body of Christ. “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (I Corinthians 12:26 NASB).

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for being a member of the Body of Christ. And I’m thankful for my village.

Who’s in your village? Are you giving and receiving?


Thankful for Nothing

Have you ever been thankful for nothing?

For what you don’t have?

For the times God said no to your request?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how thankful I am for…nothing. Yes, you read that correctly. For what I don’t have.

It’s a feeling that’s been building for several years. My heart aches for those who are carrying a cross that feels overwhelming. And I confess there are times when my own cross feels overwhelming. But then I heard a story…

A man who tells Jesus that he wants to trade his cross for a better one. “I see the crosses others are carrying and theirs are much more bearable than mine. “Why does my cross have to be so cumbersome and heavy? Other people carry their cross with ease and mine is hindering my daily life.”

Jesus leads the man to a room full of crosses. Some are large and others are small. The man is instructed to put down his cross and select a new cross. The only stipulation was once he made his selection he could never complain or exchange his cross again. He searches for hours on end. The big crosses were just as he assumed: very large and very heavy. He knew there was no way he could ever carry those crosses. The smaller crosses were imbedded with thorns that would painfully stick the shoulder or back of the carrier. Others were oddly shaped and rubbed the neck raw.

Finally the man came upon a cross that was perfect for him. Not too big but not too little. There were no sharp prodding objects and it rested perfectly on his shoulder so it would not irritate him as he carried it.
The man cried out, “Here it is Lord.”
“Are you sure?” Jesus asked. “Remember there are no trades or exchanges and no more complaining about your cross.”
The man replied, “I’m sure. This is the perfect cross for me.”
And Jesus answered, ‘My child, that’s the cross you carried in with you today.”

The apostle Paul understood the importance of contentment, but that understanding did not come naturally.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13 NIV).

Paul had to learn it… and so do we I.

 

Are you learning to be content? To be thankful for what you don‘t have?