Tuesday morning, I checked my phone to see a message from Jen to call her. Obviously, that's a great way to start my day because Jen is one of my favorite people. However, she was wanting to talk to me so I could hear from a friend instead of the Facebook flood that my friend Joyce had passed away. Joyce was ready to leave her frail body and be with Jesus, and I watched a series of photos and posts about this grace filled woman continue through my Facebook feed for the rest of the week.
I got to spend three days with Joyce this past visit to America, and I will forever treasure the gift of quality time with her. I was messaging her great niece talking about how much I loved Joyce, and how much Joyce shared the love of Jesus with everyone she met. She has an incredible legacy of loving others. I aspire to have the same kind of genuine love for Jesus shared with everyone I meet.
I've got a long way to go because any of my students will tell you that I'm quick to say how much I hate people. Truthfully, I'm just really overwhelmed by people, but I want to love them better.
I want to do a lot of things better. Walking is also on that list. I genuinely believe that taking care of my body well is a way that I can represent the love of Jesus to people, so I'm doing my part to practice walking and improve the ability I have with this frail mortal frame.
After I talked to Jen on Tuesday, I walked myself down to the cafe for a coffee and read for a bit. On the way home, my left foot fought a lot in the brace, and when I removed my shoe to lift my feet up for a bit, I noticed a red spot and loose skin that looked like a blister wanting to form. Naturally, I freaked out a bit, but I didn't have much time to spend on fretting over my foot when I was getting messages from a struggling student an ocean away. There's a balance between the foot care and the spiritual advice I offer. I'm no good to these kids if I get an infection in my foot from a neglected pressure sore, but I also am willing to drop anything and put my feet up for a bit to have a conversation about how it's hard to hear God sometimes.
Joyce's great niece was one of my small group girls back in America, and later in the week she sent me a great podcast interview with a prominent youth ministry worker. I resonated with a lot of the comments about how working with young people is invigorating and exhausting. I also resonate with the wide spectrum she explained of her work in youth ministry because students aren't always willing to talk to someone about their existential crisis if they can't laugh with you about your shared baking mishaps. Knowing I've done a lot of ridiculous things for students, my former small group student asked me if I'd ever carved a prom pumpkin. I have not, but I did help a student bake a cheesecake in my house to use to ask his girlfriend to banquet, and she agreed that was basically the same thing.
I can't say for sure what impact that cheesecake had, but that same student also saw me walk with just his friend for support while he talked to me about the shared truths he found in the book of Acts and how he was going to respond to them. I'm not sure what it says about my legacy, but earlier today, he messaged me a list of fun facts he learned about the US Postal Service on their website as well as a sentence about what he noticed as he read through two of the major prophets this weekend.
I don't know the impact I'm having, but I want to live my life faithfully like I saw Joyce do. Hopefully someday I'll have the same kind of legacy where people consistently say they encountered the love of Jesus through me.