Years ago, my friend shared this wise piece of advice and it has stuck with me through numerous situations.
“There are all kinds of reasons why you do things – but that’s not an excuse.” It doesn’t EXCUSE the behavior, choice, decision.
In our minds, we think we have a legitimate excuse. But it’s only a reason, often based in fact, to conclude that we have a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Whether it’s fear and we want to run the other way, laziness when we just don’t want to be bothered, or a nagging whisper that tells us we are not good enough to make any difference; we start to convince ourselves to listen to those negative voices and pile up the reasons hoping to get the “excused absence”. Some people master this pattern and settle into being a victim of their circumstances.
But, for some people, the frustration of the reasons why “I can’t” is not met with caving in to defeat and excuses, but fuel to find the “I can”.
Take my friend, Michelle. I met her at an Activate class at our church and felt an instant connection- let me rabbit trail for a moment- there are moms that have grown kids or little kids. When you have both, it’s a whole different level of challenge. I have been a single mom, and my youngest daughter was born when our oldest was 21. Michelle has grown daughters and is the single mom of a 4-year-old. It’s hard; and harder when people make assumptions and don’t understand. I always want to ask “what’s your story” and genuinely listen.
So, back to why Michelle is my #Shero. She decided to focus on what she could do, instead of all the “excuses” and reasons for what she could not do.
She worked from home, virtually, so she could take care of Maddox. He was a young boy that needed a bunch of time and attention. Little kids need to get to bed early so there are not a lot of opportunities to do things outside of the house after working hours.
With these restrictions, what could I possibly do to make a difference? But still, I can’t get rid of this feeling that I’m called to make a difference. I don’t have a circle of influence like women in corporate environments or the time that women who have independent kids have, or the opportunity where women can sample a bunch of different things to find their “sweet spot”. My small world is my apartment complex where I live and hardly anyone knows each other, a few necessary trips to the grocery store in my neighborhood, and some connections at church on Sunday morning and a weeknight class.
Michelle started asking what she COULD do, and an idea popped into her spirit. People need prayer. Those who know they need it, those who don’t know they need it, and probably those who have never been offered by someone to pray for them. It was a big idea but she just couldn’t let it go. Her idea was to put a prayer basket on her door and leave notes on all of her neighbors’ doors letting them know who she was and where she lived and asking if they needed prayer. They could leave a signed request, an anonymous prayer request, or knock on her door so she could intercede for them immediately
If you just gasped, wait- what? That’s not safe! Please go back a few paragraphs and review the reasons vs excuses in regards to fear. If you are relying on your bright ideas, this may not seem wise; but if you are following that spirit-driven thing that will not let you let go of it; you are covered. That’s another post for another day, stay tuned!
So, here is what happened. They went door to door, Michelle and Maddox, and left the notes for their neighbors. Maddox wanted to bang on everyone’s door and let them know they were leaving notes but mom said to just leave the notes for now. (What’s that Bible verse about coming as little children)???
And Michelle started getting notes in her prayer basket on her door. Some were signed and some were not. She noticed that the neighbors started to say hi to her, and to each other when they met walking out the door or going to the mailbox. Now she has met many of her neighbors who know she started the prayer basket and they will approach her in person and ask for prayer. The reaction has slowed a bit from the initial reach out; but maybe because people are praying for each other more. She was obedient to the first small step and that’s all that matters.
Michelle also noticed that in her neighborhood there are many homeless people and she did not want to look the other way- they were also her “neighbors”. She started, (with her adult daughter who was being influenced by her mom’s actions), packing lunch bags with water bottles and snacks. Maddox helped pack the bags. They would have the bags in the car with them so they could pass them out as they saw someone in need. Maddox likes to hug the people that they give them to; maybe he knows they need a hug as much as a snack.
There was even a time when Michelle was on her way to the ER with Maddox, who had broken his collar bone in an accident. A homeless man crossed in front of them, and they stopped to give him a snack bag. Maddox said to his mom through the pain, “mom, you are so sweet”.
I can’t imagine the impact Michelle’s act of obedience will have on her neighborhood. And I can’t imagine the impact of her example on her young son. We often hear of stories of great leaders after they have become famous or celebrities or influencers and how they attribute their success to their moms. But we rarely dig into the nuts and bolts of what their moms did to make such an impact.
Michelle, my friend, you are my #Shero 🙂