Lucy lives for that stuff, so I had it marked up in my calendar for a long time to go on that little date with her.
But it just so happened that that special date was the same time we were supposed to meet up with some out-of-town friends (we were heading to a friend’s cabin in the mountains, and it had been in the works for a while as well). I let them know I needed to push our departure time back just a tad. First of all, this is my baby, my last in elementary school and I have a hard time missing anything at the elementary school with that girl of mine. But second, I pictured her wandering around by herself in the midst of all those happy mom-and-daughter duos and I just can’t do that.
Of course everyone was fine to wait 15 minutes longer to get out of town (we were driving), and all was well. Lucy and I planned to walk to the school so I could get picked up from there, but by the time I got everything situated to leave the kids overnight and tried to check off my morning list we had to zoom over there in the car. That morning school hour is sometimes tricky traffic-wise to get out of our neighborhood, and my frustration mounted as we got stuck behind this black suburban that was obviously not in a hurry like I was. I zipped past them when I could break free, and pulled up in the midst of the Muffins with Moms hoopla.
Low and behold, guess who pulled up right behind me? You got it, the black suburban.
And out hopped one of my very favorite young families from church.
They have three little kids, one of them a pretty small baby, and although we were laughing together about my hot-rod driving, I was sure embarrassed.
I share this story because I love that that cute family knew, with no judgement, that I had a “story.” No questions asked, just love and some laughing…and some muffins. They had a story too: just a cute family driving normal to get to the school 🙂
I’ve been thinking about that little moment since then. Because everyone has a story.
We continued on our way up to the cabin with our friends and as we got the chance to catch up I was in awe of some of their stories. We are really good friends yet I didn’t know the depth and breadth of some of the things they are dealing with right now. Every single one of those six couples up there has something pretty large and dark they are dealing with. And it makes me love them even more, and made Dave and me both tear up as we talked it over on one of our drives. Sometimes we all deal with things we think are going to rip our hearts out and crush us. And then life keeps going. So you put on a smiling face and go out to face the world. Because there is no other choice. You get busy living or you get busy letting it eat away your soul. These parents are busy living. And doing. And nurturing. And loving. And I’m so grateful to know a little more of their stories so I can have more empathy, not only for what they are going through, but what a random stranger on the street may be going through.
To further the “story” motif, on the way to the cabin there was a motorcycle driver who was driving us all a little nutty. He didn’t seem to know which lane he wanted to be in and we had a hard time passing him. As the husbands complained about how he didn’t know what he was doing, my friend mentioned that she likes to make up stories for things like that to always give people the benefit of the doubt. “He’s probably so nervous on the turns of this canyon,” and “maybe he’s thinking about his mom who is sick,” or “his pants are bugging him and he’s trying to figure out a place to turn off.” Ha! You get the idea. I love that she had that little built in mechanism for when people are driving her crazy, because, yes, everyone has a story. And most of the time we don’t know that story. We just need to be gentle and love more.
I love that God knows ALL our stories, big and little, and that He is willing to give us all the benefit of the doubt and to keep cheering us on no matter how hot-rod we drive or how many mistakes we make. How I hope to be more like Him as I deal with others around me, and give myself the benefit of the doubt as well…even when I fall off of a step while jumping in my exercise class this morning (so embarrassing…I have a big rug burn on my arm to show for it), and deal with a “recess incident” that happened with Lucy at school yesterday. The stories keep coming. And we keep keeping on.
I’m so glad that cute family from church was gentle with me on that muffin morning last week, and made me think so much about the stories people carry around.