Good or bad, I am a classic people pleaser. I want everything to run smoothly and happily. I want everyone to love Jesus, each other, and be sweet.
I was the first one to marry into the Langley family. I fell in love, not only with Bill, but also his family. I wanted everything to be perfect the first time Bill’s mother, whom everyone referred to as Mama Lou, came to stay with us in our little seminary apartment in Fort Worth, Texas. I had cleaned the apartment and prepared a nice dinner for the occasion.
Our little triplex was at the very edge of where seminary property ended. Across the street from us was a house that was always a little worrisome. We have no idea who really lived there, but the thing I do know is they never used the front door to come and go. There was an unusually large window on the same side of the street that faced our front door and bedroom window. There were countless guys coming and going out of that window day and night for all the years we lived there. They didn’t speak English but seemed very nice. We had never mentioned this to Mama Lou, we thought she might worry. She lived in a place where people just didn’t come in and out of windows. I knew this was one thing I had no control over. I just hoped they wouldn’t be using the window as a urinal during her stay at 2608 West Bolt Street. The great thing about Mama Lou is that if she did notice this and felt worried, she never told us. I can remember that this meant a great deal to me. She is a gracious, positive and loving person … one of my greatest role models. We liked our guys who lived there over the years. We were friendly and we tried to show the love of Christ. They were always very nice and respectful (well, as respectful as one can be going in and out of windows all hours of the day and night and occasionally using the window for a urinal).
It’s funny to look back and think how tiny our place was. I can remember when we ate at the four top drop-leaf table that belonged to Bill’s grandparents; I could refill everyone’s glasses during dinner without even getting up. You forgot the butter, “no worries, let me just lean over this way and get it from the fridge … no don’t get up. I’ve got it!”
The three of us sat in our living room after dinner to catch up and visit. My Dad used to say as we sat together before conversation began, “Well, tell off something.” So, in step with my dad, we were each ‘telling off something.’ At one point, I interjected how tired I was after a busy week in school and work. After saying that, Mama Lou said to me, “You better get your iron up.” I looked at her hoping for more information… but that was it. So when your new Southern mother-in-law tells you to ‘get your iron up’, brother, I got my iron up! I obediently, without question, smiled and nodded my head. I jumped up and went back into our room where I proceeded to drag the ironing board and iron into the living room and set it up.
While noticing my sudden activity, but not diverting from their conversation, Bill and Mama Lou kept on pace with what they were saying, never asking me what in the world I was so urgently doing. After I got everything ready I said; “Ok Mama Lou, here’s your iron all heated up and ready to go.” She and Bill both looked at me in silence until Mama Lou laughing said, “Oh, honey, I was talking about the iron in your body since you are so tired!” It never even entered my mind that I wasn’t doing the exact right thing for the moment. Total confidence in my actions … until I was told otherwise.
Have you ever read to your children the Amelia Bedelia books? Let me summarize for you. It’s the story of a girl who took everything said as literal. (I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.) It’s pretty easy to pull the wool over my eyes, as they say. I most likely will believe you if you tell me something. Through the years I try to stay ahead of this but in spite of my best efforts, I am pretty gullible. My children regularly and creatively find great pleasure in this.
As I face the front end of a new year I really do need to get my iron up. I was sick before Christmas. Bill and I have both been sick after Christmas. I still haven’t unpacked from our DC trip! I’m looking at my suitcase sitting there right now just as it was when Bill brought it in from the car on Jan 1. For my lovely daughter Rachel – normal … for Sheri – abnormal. I got up today and felt a bit better so I cleaned the kitchen, rewashed the clothes in the washer, started gathering up Christmas plunder, moved it all from one side of the room to the other, and dropped it as neatly as I could while never bending over. I was hoping Bill could see I gave it an effort, as he was sicker than I for a change. I did manage to take a shower and wash my hair today, which does wonders for your spirit. I’m slowly but surely going to get that iron up.
How about we do this together, let’s get our iron up in every possible way — understood or misunderstood, literally or figuratively, whatever it looks like for your life. Don’t be offended if people laugh at you. I try to assume the best … that they are laughing with me. Even if they are laughing at me, I’m ok with that cause I made them laugh. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Go in and out of a window, occasionally, just because you still can.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have prefect peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer (take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted)! For I have overcome the world. (I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.)”- John 16:33
Psalm 105:4 “Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.”