Two weekends ago I looked forward to a quiet evening hibernating alone in our closed-in garage while the rest of the world went door to door for Halloween. After all, no one needed to know I was there in the windowless room.
I didn’t want to run to the store. Or pay for a big bag of candy. Or open and shut the door every now and then. Yet, something in my heart wasn’t settled with this plan of comfort, even though it seemed quite reasonable. I was tired and the idea of a quiet empty house was more than appealing.
Suddenly, I remembered the turquoise table waiting in our front yard, where I look forward to getting to know my neighbors, particularly the school kids who walk past our home in mid-afternoon.
So, I had a wild idea and ran with it.
Why wait any longer to meet new neighbors? After all, on tonight of all nights, you don’t even have to look for them. They come to you.
With the table set up on the driveway I ran to the store for that big bag of candy after all, and a few other non-edible treats like stickers & pencils. Thank goodness for Target & the dollar spot.
On poster board, with our drying out permanent markers & an uncrafty hand, I made a simple sign.
“Welcome to our table.”
I showed up, with great expectations & high hopes of fabulous conversations. I couldn’t wait to see how many names would grace my sign this evening. I wondered if I bought enough treats for all who would stop by.
Dream big. And cheesy. Especially when you live in Texas y’all.
Over the next hour & a half, four families came up to greet me at my table. I searched the neighborhood streets up and down. Everything looked awfully dark and oddly quiet.
Disappointed, I moved still full bowls to the front porch & went inside to shower. When I returned to gather the leftovers, and maybe munch on a few treats for myself, the bowls were quite empty.
Someone showed up. Remnant pieces lay around, clearly an indicator of the classic dump-and-take-it-all-and-flee.
“Good grief, I didn’t even get to meet them face to face,” I thought. “I didn’t get them to put their names on my cheesy sign.”
I bet they were glad I wasn’t there when they showed up. I’d also bet they were glad I was there before they came. If I hadn’t shown up in the first place there would have been nothing to receive.
Eventually, I got over myself. Disappointment turned to gratitude. I was thankful for having something to give, and for those who received it. I”m thankful now for all the times when I show up and things didn’t go my way.
Ok, it’s always easier to say this after the fact.
Many of you show up day after day to do the things you believe God calls you to do. Even when the outcome doesn’t look anything like you thought it would. Instead of crowds of people and deep appreciation you find it all eerily quiet. Even so…
You keep showing up.
Can I just say, because maybe no one else will. Thank you. Thank you for showing up.
Moms and dads, you show up day after day to care for your children’s needs when no one else praises you for surviving another melt down, another hospital visit, another dirty diaper, another glaring look, or another call from the school.
Writers, you show up time and time again even when other do not seem to notice, when Facebook doesn’t allow your post to be seen, or when just the opposite happens and you receive criticism time and time again. You keep going. You keep trying. You keep seeking how to be true to what God’s called you to do while showing kindness & generosity when other disagree.
For the one who deals with chronic illness, gut issues and health concerns galore, you keep showing up day after day. Even when you have no more strength and feel like you can’t take another step. Maybe it’s because you don’t have a choice, but somehow when you show up you find His strength and mercy meeting you there.
Some of you serve as caregivers, as foster parents, as team members for one organization, or church or another. You give and give and give, because you have been given so much. You struggle to know how to balance your own needs with giving to the needs of others. You might night to show up on vacation. 🙂
Some of you struggle in your closest relationships, whether your spouse, your best friend, your pastor/leader or a family member. You continually press in. You show up to do what you can. Time and time again.
God sees you showing up. He cares about every step. He cares about your heart so tenderly, yet fiercely. He cares that you are caring for yourself too, in the midst of all you do.
And when you struggle to show up well, you have a God who see that too. Despite a seeming lack of response. Despite the failures and mishaps over the years. Despite rejection.
Because He has given you so much, you are blessed to give back in each and every small way you do.
Dear ones, even when it seems small, keep showing up.