My family and I recently drove back home to mourn the loss of a dear friend and to support his family through the loss. We went there hoping to be of some support to our friends, and in the end, I ended up receiving far more than I ever could have given. My friend, who had just lost her beloved husband of 42 years, gifted me with a lesson of what it really means to be a person for others.
My friend has always been the sort of person who has an uncanny ability to sense who in any given crowd might need special attention—whether they’re disabled, lonely, an outcast, or somehow in need of something. With her vivacious personality and great love, my friend seeks out those people and serves them in whatever manner they need, whether they realize their need or not. It’s seldom a single occurrence. People quickly get adopted into her ever-growing circle, and they never find themselves far from her thoughts and actions.
When we visited this time, I was heartened that, after years of her giving to us in so many ways throughout our friendship, we would finally be able to give back some of that love to her and to serve her. Knowing her capacity for deep love, we expected she’d be overwhelmed with grief.
Imagine, then, my surprise when she insisted we come to see her and her family within hours of us reaching town, where she fed us and sent us home with even more food for the next day, despite our protests. We visited and we laughed as we shared stories and fellowship.
The following day was the funeral. We watched as our friend greeted each and every person with great enthusiasm and gratitude. She even pulled little bags of treats from her purse for several of the children who came—just as she always has—each bag specially packed with things she knows that particular child likes. It was not surprising to us at all that those present at the funeral represented so many ages, races, and walks of life. Together with her husband, she had welcomed and loved them all. She and her husband had made a ministry of finding God in everyone and in serving those most in need of God’s love. And here she was, in enormous pain from the fresh wound of losing her husband, still ministering to everyone else. I later learned that she also took the time that afternoon to check in on a friend of hers, because that lady had to attend two funerals that day, and my friend wanted to check in on her and boost her spirits between funerals.
My friend has the gift of being able to make everyone feel special and loved. She ministers so consistently to those around her that, even in times of great pain and sorrow, she continues to serve. She never tires of her ministry, nor even sees it as such. It has quite simply become a part of who she is. She truly is a person for all people.
Witnessing what I did in her presence, I was reminded of what it means to be a person for others. My friend is a tremendous gift to all those in her community—and to me, as I continue to learn from her example.
Rest in peace, Ron, God’s good and faithful servant.