I first learned the lesson of not holding “my stuff” too tightly when I had to share a room with my little sister – almost six years my junior. It was especially challenging when I was in high school and she was still in grade school. Our interests were totally different, and she was in the “messy” stage while I was discovering ways to use my creativity to make my room and my “stuff” uniquely mine. If I thought that was challenging, it became more so toward the end of my senior year in high school when Mary entered our lives.
My parents worked with students at Oregon State University. One day when there was an all-student gathering, they ran across a young woman asking for help. She was dirty and likely hadn’t had a bath or shower in months. She was also trying to break free from a “Biker gang” where she had been involved in drugs and who knows what else. She opened up to my parents and they carefully listened to her story. Protective of me and my siblings, but also encouraging of us to be willing to allow Mary to stay with us for a bit while they endeavored to find housing and help for her, she was brought into our already crowded house.
Mary didn’t have much in the way of clothing, let alone personal grooming products. I was asked to share since I was closest in size and age. I learned another lesson of not holding my stuff tightly as well as what it meant to count the cost of being a follower of Christ – that to truly love another, I might have to sacrifice. (Luke 14:33)
Then, later after I got married, I learned again there is a cost to be counted in even close relationships. What I thought was important didn’t matter to my new husband. And what was of supreme value to him didn’t even register on my scale of importance! More counting the cost of sacrificial loving.
If I imagined I had learned everything about the subject, I was wrong! Having six sons taught me even more. There were the cookie sheets taken outside to use as sleds on the icy driveway, and a dart hole in a very lovely and irreplaceable picture on the dining room wall. I don’t know how many times I tried hiding my good dressmaker’s sheers to keep one of the boys from using them to cut paper or wire. Initially I shed tears, and did a little ranting and raving, but in helping them discern right from wrong, and carefulness of the property of others, I also learned to let go even more in counting the cost of sacrificial loving. They were (and are) far more precious than any of my “stuff.”
Through the years, my husband and I have included others in our lives – some from far-reaching countries needing a home away from home, and a very special 14-year-old homeless young man who has become family after years of loving him through some tough times. Money spent, possessions given away, stuff lost and sometimes ruined, I am still learning more and more how to sacrifice for the good of others. And, I am thankful for the rich opportunities that counting the cost of following Jesus has brought me. – Judi Brandow, Communications Specialist