I’ve been a little off the grid lately, for which I’d apologize except that apologizing for attempting to manage a life that’s full-to-overflowing seems a little silly and a little like I think you wouldn’t understand. Like I think you’re not this busy. Like I think you’re not trying to hold things together, too. And I’m not opposed to being silly, but I think we’re past that last part, right? Apologizing for doing the best we can? Or for doing our mediocre, which sometimes is the best we can? Right. So let’s skip that part, shall we? Excellent. Moving on.
I’ve been a little off the grid lately, what with my regular Parenting Gig, and my current Work Outside the Home Gig, and the Kids With Special Needs Gig (psst… it was I.E.P. Day today! Happy I.E.P. Day!), not to mention the Married Gig, and the Friend Gig, and the Family Gigs, and the Bits and Pieces of Stuff I’m Never Gonna Get Done Gigs.
There are lots of gigs, is what I’m saying, and I’m managing some of them and not others, and, well, I’m OK with that.
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven; a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, etc., etc., and so forth. It’s just that the guy in Ecclesiasties who listed all the times and seasons forgot to tell us the seasons overlap a lot, and so we find ourselves constantly in the process of dying to ourselves and being reborn, every minute and every day, consolation and desolation intertwined, grief and joy, losing and finding ourselves and each other again and again, and being found, somehow, by Love in the mess, which is what we call grace.
I smelled like pineapple yesterday.
Like pineapple was the fragrance I was wearing, instead of what really happened, which is that I was wearing pineapple.
Here’s what happened.
I have a temporary job; my former job, actually, at Medical Teams International as executive assistant to the president, in the interim while they hire for the position.
The truth is I love Medical Teams International, a humanitarian aid organization that works with the world’s most marginalized people. People affected by disaster, conflict and poverty. People who’ve fled their homes as refugees in Syria and the Congo. People who’ve lost their homes, their jobs and their families to tsunamis and earthquakes. Mamas who have sick babies and nowhere else to turn for medicine and help. People who are eager for community health programs. Medical Teams responds with aid, medical supplies, doctors and nurses, and quality, sustainable programs. It’s amazing work run by passionate, talented, incredible people. And, to be totally honest, with all the crappy stuff that happens in the name of Jesus these days, it’s a balm to my soul to work with people who live Love out loud to all comers.
Medical Teams International owns a piece of my heart.
But listen; I do not have time for this job.
There’s no time in my kids’ schedules, in my writing schedule, in my personal schedule, in the holiday schedule.
So when the president of Medical Teams called me and asked me if I would consider coming back after a two-year hiatus for a few weeks while he hires the next assistant, I took one minute to think about it before I said yes.
Yes, I’ll be there.
Yes, I’ll sacrifice from the time I don’t have. From the time with my family and friends. From my time here with you.
Because there are mamas and dads on the other side of the world watching their kids suffer, and there are kids losing their mamas and dads. There are people here in our own communities who are hurting, too. Medical Teams International eases their suffering, and I have a skill set and relationships in place to help in this season of transition.
The lack of time simply doesn’t matter when it’s the right thing to do. The lack of time doesn’t matter when Love whispers, “Say yes.”
Which is how I found myself yesterday in a sweater and heels, with damn good hair if I do say so myself, and full make-up, and my best bra, and a skirt I dug out from the back of my closet hoping it wasn’t too, too out of date to wear to a board meeting, crossing the parking lot with a fruit tray in hand. After hours of meetings, I thought, fruit is the perfect afternoon snack. The final touch on comprehensive board planning and document preparation and thoughtful conversation and moving global, life-saving work forward. Fruit! A must have.
I dropped the tray.
On the pavement.
In the middle of the parking lot.
Of course I did.
Because I’m me no matter how fine my hair looks.
And so I squatted there in the parking lot, in my skirt and heels.
The GOOD news is, the tray had a lid.
The bad news is, the lid had popped off.
The good news is, it was only slightly askew and not much fruit fell out.
The bad news is, I had to figure out how to reattach the lid without smashing the fruit which had shifted in flight.
The good news is, I realized I could hold the lid and tray in place and flip it quickly upright, thus saving the fruit.
The bad news is, I flipped pineapple down my shirt in the process. And into my best bra where it lodged and squished and juiced itself.
The good news is, pineapple isn’t a bad way to smell all day.
And the extra good news is, if you secretly pull a piece of pineapple out of your bra in front of the Chief Financial Officer for a major humanitarian aid organization and she happens to have a rad sense of humor, she’ll laugh with you. And a little bit at you. But mostly with you.
Look. I am a mess — all the time — because I’m made out of human. But I also, like all of us, have small opportunities to change the world, to love my neighbor as myself, and to remember everyone is my neighbor.
I sat in a board meeting yesterday full of doctors and lawyers, CEOs and founders of businesses. All successful. All poised. All whip smart, on the ball, and undoubtedly without fruit in their undies. But here’s the thing: I’ll bet they’re all made out of human, too. All intertwined. All full of simultaneous seasons. All mixed up with joy and grief and tears and laughter. None of them had time to be there, either, and all of them said yes anyway.
‘Tis the season.