A funny thing happened at my 20th high school reunion this weekend. I realized that what goes around truly comes around. Sound a little too John Hughes/”Breakfast Club” for you? Well stifle your gagging, because it was.
I was chickenhearted getting off the plane in Milwaukee. Once I overcame the smell of cheese curds and Pabst Blue ribbon, I became convinced that there were plenty of things to be anxious about when seeing people I’d been separated from for 10-20 years. Did I look alright? What if I didn’t remember someone’s name and make a fool of myself? What did I have to show for the last decade or two? Is what I’ve accomplished, enough? My focus wasn’t as much on seeing the people I cared about – those who were such an instrumental part in my own personal development – as it was on me. And I didn’t think I was enough. So in the elevator headed down to the reception, I prayed simply – “Jesus, quell my fear, and just help me to love on people like you did.”
In typical style, He gave me plenty of chances. My conversations with old friends went very deep, very quickly. I had prayed to show love, and I was able to do it by listening, by hugging, by crying. The “what do you do?” question was nearly every time, peripheral. I realized it didn’t matter what I did. It only mattered what I could give.
A good friend of mine – with whom I disagree on certain social issues – was sitting side by side with me at a table. He’d had one vision of me in high school. He wondered, no doubt, if it still held true. His experiences with Christianity had left a bad taste in his mouth, and he was afraid to discuss certain things with me for fear of having to submit to a judgmental lambasting. He was shocked when I took his hand and told him that Jesus loved him, and I did too – no matter what his choices; that there was a place for both of us in Heaven, and that my being able to see him and hug him was a highlight of the reunion. Just a little bit of love. That’s all it took to coax him out with us after the reunion was over – out to a late-night noshing at Denny’s. But somewhere in the melee, I had lost my phone – the phone with video and pictures of my children that could not be replaced.
It wasn’t until the next day, three hours out from our flight that I started to panic. Matt tried remotely installing a tracking device on my phone, which didn’t work because of the spam filter I’d installed on the same phone the week before. We scoured the hotel. We harangued the front desk clerks. Nothing. I put a desperate post on Facebook – my only means of communicating with people whose telephone numbers I didn’t get a chance to take the night before. We were two hours out from our flight (with an un-packed hotel room, and a rental car yet to be returned), when my friend from the night before posted that he had called Denny’s, and they had found the phone – a phone black as the parking lot asphalt it had been laying on. My husband retrieved it from the manager 30 minutes later – an hour prior to the flight that we eventually made – and was told, “It was a miracle I didn’t run it over.” A miracle, indeed. Complete with rock star flourish.
You love on people. And then they love you back by finding your phone. What went around, came right back around. And it was awesome.
If you think this is a circuitous way of coming back to my son’s disability and his struggles with Asperger’s Syndrome, you’d be right. All I can tell you is that being loved on by the Lord helps you love on other people. Even the ones who throw a meltdown at McDonald’s.