Welcome to Tending through the Seasons series, where writers from various seasons of life share how they are tending their soul by the Word of God through their current season.
Hi, I am Caitlin, writer, poet, mom, all around woman. I want to chat about the ways we can do ordinary things extraordinarily well. You can find me on Instagram sharing about poetry and the fruit of the Spirit, as well as my latest baking project. Check out my podcast with my kids, Mama Bear Chats, on Spotify. And sign up for my weekly newsletter, Caitlin Chats over on Substack, where I talk about being a working mom, and all the ordinary things that make up life.
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:1 NET)
I feel like I have talked about it repeatedly, but I broke my ankle in April, and it has led me to be in a completely unexpected place for summer. I intended to be really busy this summer. Engaging with my kids, gathering with other people, having fun exploring.
Now I find myself somewhat sidelined by this handicap. There is strange freedom in the limitations of healing a broken joint.
Sure, there are many things that I can’t do, but I am learning what things I am still free to act on. I suffer from chronic volunteering; if some asks for help, I am so there.
Every email from the church, from work, from the school, I want to be the one at the top of the list. And now I see those emails have my name in them, as the one with a need to be met.
I can’t volunteer myself since I am the one in need of help. Learning how to watch others help me is one of the most humbling experiences of my life to date. To sit in a chair while friends see my clogged toilets and air my actual dirty laundry is an exercise in humility.
Other parents drove my kids to and from school and sports. Several people took me to doctors and physical therapy.
Serving one another requires that someone be served. Most of the time I think of myself as serving others, but now, I need to be served and there is grace for that as well.
What I find in this season of being served is that I also have a chance to watch and listen.
My physical limitations do not extend to my heart. Those few hours each week gave people a chance to share, to talk about things they are learning, maybe things that they are struggling with.
So many of the things that challenge us are less apparent than a broken ankle. It’s the temperamental teens learning to navigate relationships. It’s the toddlers pushing boundaries as they grow. It’s the marriages working through communication issues.
All of us are experiencing some struggle depending on our season. Those struggles will bring different freedoms and limitations. At this moment, I have a limp and can’t be the person to help pack boxes for the friends who are moving, or drive kids around to activities.
But my ears aren’t broken, so while someone else drives me around, I can listen as they share the things that they are working through. Now we are serving one another, meeting the needs that we each have.
Maybe I am not planning parties and hikes, but I am there for the ones who need to cry for a little while as we fold clean laundry together.
Maybe I can’t show up to meetings, but I can do the computer projects you don’t have time for because of all the meetings.
As I slowly gain strength and stamina in my joint, I find that I am still limited physically. However, I am still free if you want to come by with an iced coffee, we can talk.
Sure, we could do a Bible study, or we could wash my crusty dishes and pray about the worries that overwhelm you. We can still laugh together over a board game rather than a volleyball in the yard.
Serving one another is less about how and more about making the opportunities happen.
Serving one another can be an active thing, helping with meals and chores, or a settled thing, offering the listening ear and prayer together. We have the freedom to serve and be served in different ways, and I have been well served by this broken ankle.
I have been free to listen to my friends and pray for them. I hope that whatever your season of serving, you will also being willing to be served, building the love of Christ with your brothers and sisters.
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