Sisters in Scripture
It Matters - some sisterly advice
6/17/2020 Kathleen MacInnis Kichline

Someone had a significant birthday, the kind that ends with a "0.” There are eight of us and we had gathered six times already for this particular "0”--as many of us as could come. Now it was #7’s turn. Our brother-in-the-middle couldn’t make it, so we gathered as seven sisters, the first time it was only girls. 

After the birthday dinner and presents, in mid-cake, as I recall, it was remembered that I am ten years the senior of the birthday girl and had a "0” of my own coming soon. The request came, "What kind of wisdom do you have, Kathleen, from your advanced age?” (You get used to this language when you have six "little sisters”).

I could have whipped out a clever reply—if I were good at that sort of thing, but I paused, instead, to consider. I really wanted to get this right. I still felt that childhood admonition to watch out for the little ones. Did I have any wisdom? What do I know from going first that they should also know?

"It really matters,” I said, "what you do. It matters—all of it. And somehow, it matters more than it ever did.” I was laying down the words for my thoughts to step out upon. I’d been thinking this for a long time, but only now finding the words.

"It’s like football. It’s the fourth quarter and you are in the red zone. You’re not going to dink around with what-if plays. You gotta get this right. When I was younger, it didn’t matter so much if I did things half-way, didn’t follow-through, didn’t wring out of each experience all that it had to teach me. There would always be other times, right? Now, it matters. I want to give my best effort to whatever is my lot right then—good or bad.
"I’ve become aware that everything, even the smallest of actions, is imbued with meaning. I am no longer in the arena of determining public policy. Okay, so I never really was, but I used to think that way. I thought in terms of cause and effect, of making choices, taking action to bring about a desired, better outcome. Now, I am much more aware of how this world spins around heedless of my input or opinion. 

"So, you could say I feel powerless. Yet, the opposite is true. I do not expect to effect an outcome, but do expect to make a difference, a lasting one. I am utterly convinced, I know it in my bones, that what I do contributes. I believe this is true, even in things that may seem unimportant. I have a lifetime I can bring to bear—whether I am teaching a child how to tie his shoe or holding my friend’s hand while we await her test results. 

"And it does not end with the immediate. Maybe because I believe there is life beyond life, I also believe there are consequences that reverberate beyond our knowing. Because I believe in our connectedness, that we are all held together in the mysterious matrix of God’s grace, I believe my best efforts alleviate the suffering, assist the struggle somewhere else. Have you ever helped someone put on support stockings? Let’s just say I could now wrestle alligators with ease. If I summon the muse of laughter in that struggle, I know that somewhere a young mother at her wit’s end with a crying baby is suddenly given the ease to simply rock and comfort and croon. I have certainly been on the receiving end of unexplained, unexpected grace myself. Now, with a lifetime to invest, I am making deposits of grace with every choice I make. 

See, the struggles don’t get less. As they say, none of us gets out of this alive. There will be losses, searing ones. It’s not like the retirement commercials where people wearing Dockers gather around their barbeques overlooking the golf course—at least it hasn’t been like that for me. And I do not think I want it to be. I want to have purpose. 

Not only am I not ready to let go of that, I believe the ante has gone way up. I think God is placing more before me now than ever before. Most of the time it is behind-the-scenes, doing what I can and letting God decide how to use it. But sometimes, I can make direct connection between the world’s needs and my gifts, and that is especially great. A casual acquaintance turns into mentoring. I follow through on the impulse to speak out or show up and it makes a difference. 

I think God is placing more before me now than ever before. The two of us are more of a team than we ever used to be. There is an intuition between us now. I kinda know Who’s behind the challenge/invitation before me. Sometimes, I even know what I should do next. I still get it wrong a lot, but then we mostly just have a good laugh and I try again. Do-overs are common and free of charge.” 

So, happy birthday, dear little sister with the "0” birthday. This is what I have to offer from going first.  

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