Everywhere I go, I find evidence that people are jerks (mind you, I’m not speaking about the spiritual content of their character but only the behavioral expressions of their character). We are all witnesses of the big stories – the accounts of shootings in the street, of abusive treatment of all of God’s creation and of acts of terrorism around the globe – and we all witness the little affronts – getting cut off at a stop light while the driver gestures and shouts obscenities to your minivan or getting elbowed out of your chance at the cashier by a fellow shopper. But not everyone is a jerk; a few people I know are genuinely good.
One such genuinely good person is my wife, Jeanine. As a way of explaining, let me share what her day will be like on Sunday. She will get up at 6:00 AM when her husband’s alarm goes off and then try, likely unsuccessfully, to try to catch a few more winks of sleep. At about 7:30, just as her husband leaves for work, her 8 year-old will get up and ask for breakfast, which she will provide dutifully. Then, for the next 110 minutes, she will awaken and reawaken her two middle children, making sure that they are fed and dressed for church. At 9:30 she will teach Sunday School, then attend worship whilst wrangling a rambunctious young boy who will reluctantly sit beside her. After church, she will assist in an Ice Cream Social. This will take her to 1 PM.
At 1 she will leave church, ride home with the family, insure that the majority of children (and her mother-in-law) have some idea about lunch. At that point my wife, myself and our daughter will rush over to Cambridge to attend Rebekah’s High School Prize Ceremony scheduled to begin at 2. Assuming it will be over by 4, and we can get through past the Sunday drivers, we will be home around 5 PM. Then, and only then, will we all gather together as a family to celebrate her birthday – oh, did I forget to mention that Sunday, June 12th is Jeanine’s birthday?
There will be no complaints about schedules or grumblings about plans; Jeanine is genuinely good because she genuinely loves those around her. She follows the ‘golden rule’ –
Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 (NIV)
She will treat her husband, her children and the myriad of others who cross her path as she would want to be treated: as harried, hurried and (occasionally) hurting human beings worthy of respect, recognition and (occasionally) rescue. She will not retaliate or seek revenge; she will care for those close to her, even on her birthday.
Happy birthday, Jeanine, a few days early. We are all looking forward to sharing some cake and ice cream on your special day. But know this: on Sunday there will be a time when you will open some presents, yet, for those of us who have the privilege to know you, we are the ones who have received the gift.