Thursday, May 21, 2009

"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."

I sat in the church balcony, reveling in all the good things in my life.

The sun shone (I could see, and feel its warmth, peeking through the stained glass), birds chirped just outside, and the songs reminded me of how much I was loved. Gary and each of the girls sat close was Mother's Day, so they knew that their closeness was important to me.

The music played, the prayers rose, and then our minister began a beautiful message on, well, the beauty of mothers.

At that moment, though, some of my comfort disappeared.

No, I still appreciated the good things in my life and I still felt loved...immeasurably loved.

But I listened to his words about mothers who were always there for their children, who made fresh-baked cookies, and gave kisses and unconditional love... and then I looked around the balcony.

And I saw teenagers (since the balcony is the "spot" for our youth!) who didn't know the love of a mother, or who were experiencing the loss of a mother, and my heart really broke for them.

There was my friend, Raymond, who lost his mother this past Fall to a heart attack. She was a great Mom, but now he only has the memories of her to hold on to.

There was a 13-year-old girl--one of my favorite, and most intelligent, kind-hearted, truly honest people in the world--who comes to me often with questions and sadnesses because her own Mom wants her to be something other than she is.

There was another girl--one of Delaney's best friends--whose own mother had to be taken away from her years ago, because of addictions and relationship problems. Her heart breaks because she wants her Mom back but, even at 13, knows it wouldn't be good if she did.

There were two brothers--one 15, one 8--who listened to the words and surely questioned why their Mom would choose a new man as her husband...a a horrible man who had done horrible things...over being their mother.

And there were so many others with similar stories...and I could almost palpably feel their sadness.

I heard the happy words coming from the pulpit (and I'm not saying this to be negative towards our was a beautiful message and it resonated with me and reminded me of how much I treasure my own mother and how much I want to be a great mother myself), and I was really convicted and challenged.

How often do we turn a blind eye to the ugliness around us? How often do we look at people in a really superficial, on-the-surface manner? How often do we brush other people aside, not asking ourselves if we might could be that touch, that hug, that voice, that ear to reach out to them?

And...specific to my experience that often do we ignore the young people in our lives? Do we consider their struggles less important because of their age?

I have really felt convicted lately that God wants to use me to reach out to young people around me. I seem to be able to really identify with them, and they respond to me for some reason. And it has been just an amazing blessing to see this unfold around me.

After church that Sunday morning, Delaney came to me with a little bit of a teary face. She felt many of the same things during the service, especially about her friend with the problem mother. Her friend often shares with Delaney about her sadness and frustration and anger and, Delaney being the soft-hearted child she is, just feels her pain along with her.

Delaney said that her friend told her: "I was really sad during church, but then I looked at Miss Lisa. And then I looked up at Miss Cheryl. And I realized that I have other mothers who love me."

I'm sitting here getting a big tightening in my chest just typing that out...but how wonderful it was to hear those words!

I recently had a friend of McKenna's tell me that her nickname for me would be Otra Mommy. This eighteen-year-old has a wonderful Mom already, so I'm not filling a void in that situation. But, still, how cool that I can be an "Other Mom" for her and for these other sweet young many of whom have more struggles and heartaches and uncertainties than we can ever imagine.

I really didn't see this post becoming quite so heavy and serious, but you all know that I just like to share with you what's on my heart. And what's on my heart right now is that life is really not worth much of anything unless we are reaching out to other people.

And so I challenge you with this...
Who can you reach out to?
Who in your life has a hole that you can help fill in some way?
How can you show the love you've been given, to someone else?
What young people need your influence and caring?

Don't go through today with blinders on. Realize that, yes, there is so much joy--the sun shining, the birds chirping, the chocolate flowing--but there are also so many needs. And when you see a need, choose to reach out to that need. Touch someone else with your kindness, or sense of humor, or hug, or encouraging words, or tangible help...and it will only increase the joy you are already feeling!!

I often say that God gives me words, or messages, or little nudges everyday...and today was no different.

This morning, I was already thinking of what I wanted to post, when my ears perked up at the words on a History Channel show (our regular viewing as Gary gets ready for work). The show was on Jackie Robinson (truly, one of the all-time-great role models and heroes!) and closed with the words he penned for his own epithet.

They are on his headstone and are the words I put at the top of this post. And they are a wonderful challenge to me and you today...

"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."


Stephenie said...

That was a beautiful post, otra mommy :]

It made me tear up, but in a good way. I felt Freddie with us in the balcony that morning. She's always with us. I miss her terribly, and I know Ray does too. Things changed drastically for him when she passed, but maybe she helped at the same time. The lord has a reason for everything, so maybe it was meant for him to have an escape from the misery he was in.

Ms.L said...

Ooooh you've made me cry!
I am one of those without a mother but lucky for me,my mother inlaw has taken me in as her daughter and for the first time in my life,I know what a mother's love is really like. I fully intend to
take that and pass it on to others.
Great post!

Stephenie said...

Read the blog I posted for today. Yours inspired mine, and I think you'll appreciate my post.

Anonymous said...

Cheryl, you have such a way with words and stories. Thank you for this today , and I know you inspired me.

Big Hugs!


Dawn Bibbs said...

Oh Cheryl,I am SO touched by this post. As I read it, I immediately thought of my nephew, Markell. I won't go into detail here. But it just really made me think of what's he's going through right now. And I can't help but wonder why things aren't and can't be different.

Thank you for the inspiration. Thank you for the encouragement. Thank you for the challenge. And Thank you for being the mom/friend that you are.

camport said...

Great, great post.


Maria Hammmon said...

OMG, Cheryl. What an awesome, awesome post. And great challenge. SO LOVING this! I love how you look at life and find always the best way to share and make everyone feel included and uplifted! I love you so much!

Monogram Queen said...

I am going to reach out to my 14 y/o nephew whose family is going through quite alot right now.
Great post Cheryl and my heart aches for those kids also.

Jocelyn said...

Thanks so much for stopping by Cheryl....I just adore meeting new people and I must say that you touched my life today!!! I had a doctor's appointment and I came home stressed out, wondering what the test results were going to be and I have not even had the test yet! Worrying about me and then I see this post and you are so right!!!! I am leaving the me behind and the worries I will try to give them up and use my Faith!!!! Who can I reach out to? I promise I will find that person!!!! Thank you and please keeo stopping by and nudging me!!!!

hippo chick said...

Great post. I have been having some of the same thought. I love teenage girls and am asking God where he can use me in that area.

Thanks for the inspiration, otra mom.

~hippo hugs~

Gin said...

Beautiful, beautiful.

You know - I don't have teenagers, so I dont think so much about helping out with young people. But I really feel for the ones in your lives. So sad.

Cheryl Wray said...

Steph--I can only imagine how hard Mother's Day is without Freddie. But Raymond is doing so great!

Ms. L--Thank goodness for wonderful mothers-in-law!

Marg--Hugs back to ya! :-)

Dawn--You're so sweet...and I'm glad this touched you like that. I think about Markell often!

Cheryl Wray said...


Maria--You're so sweet. YOU are an inspiration to me! :-)

Queen--Good for you! I know you would be such a great help to him.

Jocelyn--You're so sweet. I'm glad that my post inspired you some today. (And, yes, I will be popping by your place regularly. I love meeting new Blog Friends!)

Hippo--I can only imagine what a wonderful resource and inspiration you would be to those teenage girls. :-)

Gin--You really wouldn't believe some of the struggles these teenagers go through. Your heart just breaks...and then you do what you can to help them through! They are some great kids!

Gretchen said...

What a picture you paint, Cheryl. You've given me pause to consider this morning. Blessings on your long weekend and on your little old self, Otra Mom.

Monogram Queen said...

Just had to come back and read this again ......

Jeff said...

What a fantastic post. Well done Cheryl. Keep doing what you're doing and inspiring others along the way.

Stephenie said...

It was really hard, but you're right, he's doing very good :] I'm proud of him for staying so smart and strong!

Lynilu said...

Gosh, I left a long comment, and now I don't see it! Anyway, it could be summarized down to say: I get this totally, and I do try to be there for others.

Adrienne said...

OH Cheryl! This was such a great post! You made me cry!!!