Rachelle Luitjens serves as pastor of Mission and Faith Formation at Sugar Creek Mennonite Church in Wayland, Iowa and is a Master of Divinity Connect student at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. She is married to Nathan and together they have three sons, ages 11, nine and eight. Rachelle enjoys being creative and spending her spare time outdoors.
I swept the kitchen floor (again), thinking of all of the other things that had to get done: an overwhelming amount of housework, schoolwork, work-work, etc.
How was it all going to happen?
“Mom, can we go buy some trading cards? We want to see who we can get!” This from an 11-year-old and eight-year-old, wanting the excitement and surprise of opening brand new packs of trading cards.
My response: “Well, let’s go now so that we don’t have to go later.” Not the most stellar response of a mother to her children. Not, “Sure honey, let’s go and spend time together,” or “Good idea, that sounds like fun!” Nope, basically just, “Let’s get this over with so I can continue down the list of things I have to do.”
I had forgotten that someone was going to stop by later in the morning, but her call reminded me.
“Just making sure you’ll be around at 11. I’m still planning on bringing you supper.” Oh. Wow. How had I forgotten something as nice as that?
“Yes, we’ll be here, just running to the store for a few minutes and then we’ll be home for the rest of the day.” What a relief to check supper off my list for tonight. And I didn’t even have to do anything for it! But the love didn’t stop there.
As I sat at my kitchen table, chatting with Connie, two other friends showed up. Yes, Connie brought supper over for us, but she was also there to babysit for the afternoon, she informed me. Two friends had arranged to “kidnap” me for lunch and had schemed a way to provide a babysitter, so that it would be a surprise. I walked around the corner into the living room and saw them sitting there, smiling. And in that moment, I was completely confused. My thought process, went something like, “Are they here to meet Connie? What were they doing? Wait, they’re here for me?”
In the busyness of life – kids, work schedules, school, everything – I had not seen these friends for months.
We only live an hour apart, but arranging a time to see each other where we could simply be “the girls” had slipped further down the list as other, more pressing to-dos took priority.
Yet, here they were sitting on my couch, smiling at me. I know that it took some work to set the day up, but I imagine that my friends also enjoyed doing it. They were after all, fairly proud of themselves for figuring out all of the details without me finding out.
We went out for lunch, catching up on all of the latest news in each other’s lives. We shared our frustrations and our joys. We laughed at things only friends can laugh at. We relaxed and enjoyed each other and temporarily forgot about the to-do lists awaiting our return to regular life.
Did I finish the housework that day?
Did I finish the schoolwork?
Did I worry about work long enough for everything to be right?
Nope. During our time together, not one of those things crossed my mind.
Because what mattered that afternoon was the love that was showered upon me — love that was big enough to take me away from life’s details for a little while so that I could enjoy being me with friends; love that made sure I could enjoy time away while the kids were being looked after; love that didn’t end when I came back home, because supper was already prepared for the night; love that saw me, an overwhelmed and tired woman who couldn’t make herself slow down, and stepped in to make it happen.
Love in action.