Wednesday, July 06, 2016

What I've Learned From Marjorie Mae (Life Goes On)

I agree. But no one is asking us.

~Marjorie Mae Garrison 

I have a few favorite people in my life, and Marjorie Mae is one of them.

We’re nearly 5 decades apart in age, but the moment I met her, I knew we were cut from the same cloth. We are both strong and pragmatic about our faith. We are both driven by our need to serve. We both love our families and our church. We are both very stubborn, quietly opinionated, and prone to think a lot of things that we’d never say (except to each other and our closest friends and family). We have a fondness for IHOP pancakes, hash browns and sausage. She likes coffee. I drink tea. But we forgive each other for that.

I’ve known Marjorie Mae for nearly eight years, and I’ve learned a lot from her.

How could I not?

She lived through the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, WWII, Korea, Vietnam. She attended college, married, taught school, raised children. She planted churches, spread the gospel, sang in the choir and ran her home. She witnessed Hitler’s attempt to take over world and communism’s success in taking over China.  She was alive when the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and when man took his first step on the moon. She lived through the Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of a president, race riots, gas shortages, Gulf War, 911. She’s seen it all – days when good triumphs and days when evil seems to win and times when what is right is called wrong and what is wrong is called right.

She has perspective born of experience and time. Those two things can’t be artificially created. Only someone who has lived long and seen lots can really grasp the expansiveness of the human spirit and the fleeting breath of a person's life. 

Knowing Marge has taught me a lot about pressing on during hard times and being grateful and content during good ones. Being around her has taught me that pain is only a thing we must put up with while we focus on the bright and beautiful lives we’ve been given.There are many weeks when I sprint through my days, forgetting how quickly time is passing. I sit at my desk writing my stories, or I drive my kids here there and everywhere. I obsess on my pains and my illness and my fatigue, and I worry that my life won’t be the beautiful story I want it to be. 

And, then Monday comes and Marge calls me or I call her, and she catches me up on the lives of all the people she cares about. She tells me that her back hurts and her knees bother her, but why complain? 

When I talk to her, I am reminded that on the other side of every problem is a solution, that there is a peak to every mountain and a sweet down-hill slope on the other side that will always bring us home. For every moment of ugliness there is a moment of stunning beauty, and for every aching beat of our broken hearts there is a pulse-pounding moment of pure joy. 

That is life, my friends, and we are meant to live it. To hook deep into the eternal while we move through the temporary, to understand that it is not the daily battle that is important, but the tapestry that is being woven by the threads of every broken dream, every crushed hope, every deep sorrow, every pain, every extraordinary passion, every glorious victory, every moment of faith, of joy, of hope and of love. Our lives are not made of individual moments. They are made of every moment. 

So, wherever you are, whatever hurdle you are jumping, whatever pit you are trying to climb out of, whatever sorrow or sickness or trial you face, I hope that you remember what Marjorie Mae has taught me. If there is faith in the darkest hour, there will always be joy when the light returns. 

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 
Psalm 90:12

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