Of all the people and I things I miss about Nashville, the one that I miss the most is my friend Mabel.
Actually, Mabel isn’t her real name. Her real name means “beautiful,” but I’ll call her Mabel. I met her around three years ago, and it took me a few months to get to know her. I eventually started helping her with some of the things she had to read for our workshops. She was fairly quiet, until the day she finally shared her story with me.
While I can’t share the details of her story, I’ll just suffice it to say that life had dealt her many unfortunate circumstances, none of which were her fault. She couldn’t finish school, she never learned to read well, and had struggled more than she deserved.
I had met Mabel in the transitional housing complex that I went to once a week, and it wasn’t long after Mabel shared her story that we became friends. She begged me for her picture, week after week. She said that she didn’t do much reading or writing, so she went to two different churches when she could, and she spend much of the rest of her time praying for all the people in the pictures on her wall.
While life had certainly surrounded her with more than her fair share of tragedy, her positive outlook on life was refreshing. After all, if she had joy in spite all she had been through, what could I possibly have to complain about? Mabel was never shy about telling me how much she loved me, and that Jesus loved me. She prayed for me every day, and even though she didn’t know the details of my life, she didn’t need to. Jesus knew them, and that was enough for her. She said every day that she saw me was a good day, and that I was so pretty I made her smile.
And then one day, after months of seeing Mabel week after week, I began to see what Jesus sees: Mabel is one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met. Beautiful, just like her name.
Here are some of the best lessons I’ve learned from Mabel came from the time that I spent with her, and some quotes that remind me of her:
- Good or bad, beautiful or ugly, we tend to find whatever we are looking for in people, and in life.
- “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta
- Like a jelly donut, what is inside of us is best revealed when we are “squeezed.”
- “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta
- “It is wise to wonder whether those you consider to be naïve are perhaps just showing more Fruit of the Spirit than you are.” –David Drury
“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.” Galatians 5: 22-26 The Message
I hope one day to be just as beautiful as Mabel.