by Allison Martin
Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
Recently my church hosted our annual camp meeting, which is always one of the highlights of my summer. This is also my second summer to do the whole mom thing, and I don’t quite have it all figured out yet (to put it nicely). One of the last mornings of camp meeting, the crazy train was just about to derail. Without my amazing husband, I’m quite sure it would have. It was just one of those mornings. My normally easy going one year old was exhausted and so were we. Most of the service passed in a blur of trips back and forth to the nursery.
Throughout the week, my husband and I had alternated holding our little girl during altar service so that we could both have time to pray. This particular morning was my turn. And when the altar call was given, I was determined to give it a shot. That didn’t last long. I was doing very little praying about the sermon and a lot of praying that my baby would go to sleep. As much as I wanted to be down there and hear from God, I also didn’t want to be a distraction to anyone else. The longer she fought her nap, the more restless she became.
After a few minutes, I just gave up.
We slipped down the aisle and headed to the back as discreetly as I could. I kept it together until I reached the safety of the darkened nursery. Then I sat down in a rocking chair and cried.
My husband and my daughter are the two greatest gifts God has ever given to me, and I love being a mom. So I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. But in that moment I was discouraged and frustrated and feeling very much invisible. My emotions were fragile, and lying to me as our emotions sometimes do. I was just a mess.
After taking a few minutes to cry it out, I pulled myself together enough to show my face in public. I decided if I couldn’t be down at the altar, I could at least walk with my little girl in the back and still feel somewhat a part of what was happening.
Just as I was almost ready to walk out, I noticed someone standing in the doorway. I looked up into the eyes of my dear friend. She doesn’t have a baby, and you wouldn’t usually find her in the nursery. I knew exactly why she was there. She had come looking for me. I looked away because my eyes had filled with tears all over again. And they still do every time I think about it.
There aren’t any words to describe how noticed I felt in that moment. The isolation I had felt vanished as if someone had flipped a switch. A friend came looking for me in my brokenness, and it changed everything.
I don’t remember much of what she said. But I will never forget how she showed up.
I went home that day with a heart full of gratitude. And purpose. Because she taught me a lesson that day on who I want to be.
I want to be the one that shows up.
And since I don’t really remember all that she said or what she was wearing, then all of the extras must not matter as much as we sometimes think they do. Too many times I’ve held back because I didn’t feel like I had it all together. I have said nothing, for fear of not saying it just right. Or not showed up because I didn’t know what I would do to help when I got there. But I don’t want to miss any more opportunities.
I want to be the one that shows up. Even if my hair is a mess and I can’t find both my daughter’s shoes and my car hasn’t been through the wash all week.
I want to be the one that shows up. Even if I don’t have all the right words and I give awkward hugs to avoid awkward silence.
My personality may not light up the room. Depending on how comfortable I am, I may not have much to say or be able to keep the room laughing. But I’ll be there.
On the exciting days, and on the days you wish had never happened at all.
When your fears are lying to you in the middle of the night, and you need to hear the truth. When you need to look out in the crowd of faces and see a familiar one that believes in you.
At weddings and funerals and all the parties celebrating all the things.
In hospital waiting rooms all day, and in my living room at 3 AM if needed.
In car rides and walks around the park, and on the anniversary of the day your world fell apart.
I’ll be there.
I can’t be there for everyone, and neither can you. We don’t have enough hours in the day for our inner circle to get that big. But if I show up for my people and you show up for yours, then everybody has somebody.
I’m not advocating running yourself ragged, to the point that you burn out. Sometimes you’ll have to take a step back and let your people pour into you. Someone else may have to take a turn showing up, and that’s okay. But there are times that what you have to give is a picture of the widow’s oil - Pouring out when you really don’t think that you have it to give, and watching with amazement as it meets the need. Because God gets involved when you offer what you’ve got, and do what you can.
The real, life changing moments aren’t always seized by the most talented or the most charismatic. The highlights of our life’s story are always made by the ones that show up.
My life has been forever shaped by the people that showed up for me. And they are my inspiration to give someone else the priceless gift of just being there.
So I want my people to know - she may be running a few minutes late, and she may be a mess when she shows up. She won’t have the words to fix everything. She’ll probably have a whole lot of crazy going on herself. But if there’s one thing they know for sure… she’ll be there.