The missionary dropped his Bible, pages splaying and a cover splicing off as neatly as a carved slice of roast. It was the type of Bible whose cover appears to have scabies and the pages are a bit oily from years of palms praying through the pages.
I thought, belatedly, that I could have offered to tape the cover back on. To reunite it to pages with the help of some hefty packaging tape. Some sort of sticky length that might have contained things for another ten years, or maybe ten months, depending on how well-used the book really became.
I didn’t offer tape. I wish I’d thought of it.
Give a type A person like me a specific, time-bound challenge, and my entire success as a human being rests on achieving that goal. 31 days to write a daily post about quotes that inspire?! I’ll do it, even if it means staying up past my bedtime, setting the alarm earlier, or writing mid-day with a preschooler threading panther-like between my legs and a baby trapped in an exersaucer screaming infant cuss words at the toys that will. not. detach. from the tray. Yesterday, even I had to admit that day 25 was not going to happen. Instead what did happen was that I taught a Bible school class while muffling ragged coughs in my elbow, prepared a dinner even though my main ingredient was mysteriously rotted to the core when I sliced into it, and arranged my evening so that I could duck away from home for a few hours to listen to a missionary share revealing thoughts about Jesus’s take on reaching the Muslim world.
All this made possible by my main support in the wings: Big Friend.
“What do we live for,” wonders George Eliot, “if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?”
Last night, Big Friend wrangled a bottle into Little One’s sucking maw, managed half a bedtime story for Little Friend before tired screams on Little One’s part drove him from the room, threw a load of stinking cloth diapers in the wash, and still greeted me with a hug at 9:47 when I showed back up on the home front.
It can be tricky, this doing things for another person. It can be tricky to avoid feeling beholden. Or used. Depending on what side you’re on. It can be tricky to remember that doing things isn’t always the same as a hug, or a good conversation, or watching a favorite TV show shoulder-to-shoulder while the tasks go undone around you. It takes an understanding of grace to give and receive someone else’s help with no strings attached.
It feels good to detach the strings; to do a thing simply to make life less difficult for someone else.
A phone call.
A meal prepared.
A funny text sent just because.
A carpool ride.
An “I love you too, Mom.”
A cup of coffee waiting on the counter.
A listening ear.
A package sent to a sponsored child.
A piece of tape for a ripped cover.
I appreciate Big Friend and the others in my life who go out of their way to make life less difficult for me. I appreciate them so much that I find myself wanting to pay it forward. To give a piece of tape where tape is needed. “What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for someone else?”