Living Authentic Lives.

I sat quietly on the blue couch with my word for the year, “live.” 5:30 am, January 1, 2011.  A new day. A new year.  A word that seemed to have great significance especially on the first day of the year.

I ask myself, how will I live for Christ today? I had no sooner breathed those words when my cell phone rang.  5:37 am and my 21 year-old son was calling.  My heart felt as though it had stopped.  That feeling of dread.  A son who had been out all night.  Who had driven to a new year’s party with a friend. Why was he calling me? At this hour? The “what ifs,” the thoughts of terrible things began to run through my head.

As I answered, I heard, “Mom, everything’s okay, but I need you to come get me.” –Funny how even my son knew that a call at this hour would worry me. He knew those were the words I needed to hear first.

“Are you okay? Where are you? And, where’s your car?” I asked. “Yeah, I’m fine.  Just cold.  And my car,well, I can’t find it.  That’s why I need you to come and get me.”

And so, the story unfolded. He went with a friend to a small party in an area of town where she grew up–and area that my son didn’t know.  They parked the car and went into the house.  A few hours later, the group walked to the house of another friend–several blocks away.  Here, they saw the new year in and some of these young adults–most who lived in the neighborhood–drank a little too much.

As the party began to break up around 3:30 am, my son realized that a few of these folks shouldn’t leave on their own, even though they were walking.  So, sober and willing to help, my son pulled on his coat and hat, and walked a few of his friends safely home.

However, when he dropped of the last person and was ready to head home, he realized he had not paid attention when they had left the first house and walked to the second house. He only knew he had walked up a long hill to get to the second house and that he had walked several blocks.

So, for over an hour, in subfreezing weather, he walked the streets of NE Portland, looking for his car. He called his friend–who was asleep at the second house–for direction.  No answer.  He walked back to the second house and knocked.  No answer.  And, I’m sure he called a few more friends before he called me.

“I’m at the corner of Stuart and Alameda. How soon can you get here?” I turned on my GPS to see where I was headed, “20-25 minutes.  Stay safe and warm.  I’ll be there soon.”

And so, as I drove to get my son, I thought of my word — live — and I thought about my son. I thought about how his fun evening–catching up with friends home from college for the holiday, bringing in the new year–had turned into a morning of fatigue, and a feeling of helplessness and, perhaps, foolishness.  I thought about how he must feel standing alone on a dark street in freezing weather, surrounded by homes, yet all alone.

And, I thought about how desperately I just wanted to be there to help him.

This moment reflected what it means to live in relationship with others. How necessary it is that we spend time in relationship with others.  That we look out for those God has placed before us. And, that we learn to lean on others, even when we are ashamed or embarrassed. 

As I pulled up to the corner of Stuart and Alameda, I saw my son’s dark figure standing in the fog. He jogged over to the car and slid into the seat next to me.  “Thank you, mom,” he said, with eyes of gratitude.  “You’re welcome.  Let’s find your car so you can go home and get some sleep.”

That afternoon we laughed about how he had lost his car in the middle of a city neighborhood. But, it made me think about how lost and lonely we can all feel even when we are surrounded by others.

Being surrounded by others is not enough. To live in relationship we need to be purposeful and authentic. We need to engage others, let down our guard, listen, lean, love.  We need to live authentic lives loving others.

Christ showed us that model. He showed us that authentic love gives hope.

“Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. . . And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” — Colossians 3:12-15, 17.

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Posted on January 6, 2011, in Christianity, Hope and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. What a thoughtful, meaningful way to connect a funny family story to a deep lesson about how we live in connection to others. The image of your son standing in the dark, cold fog in the midst of houses full of people sleeping in the warmth will stick with me for a long time. I can almost see it as a painting. Hmm, or as a photograph your daughter might put together!

    And I love the tie in to the Bible verse, which I am going to copy right now and put on my “wall of inspiration” (all the little scribbled notes of borrowed wisdom stuck on the wall by my computer).

    • Galen – The image of my son in the fog, alone, in the midst of the neighborhood will stick with me a long time, too. All too often we feel so separate from others, even when we are surrounded my people.
      Godspeed,
      Elizabeth

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