“Good morning Shawn.” Mrs. Lilly said for about the hundredth time. Mrs. Lilly has a little place of her own, lives alone, and finds comfort in the community aspect of RCM. She visits us about 3 times a week and always greets me this way. It would be really sweet, except my name isn’t Shawn!
Mrs. Lilly is one of the first people I met upon coming to RCM. She has no teeth, and can be difficult to understand, but she loves to sing. She sings old spirituals, new praise songs, old church standards, and especially songs of her own invention set to the tune of old classics. She reads everything she can get her hands on (including an entire encyclopedia set, article by article, someone donated) and asks me every day if I have something new for her to read. And I better never give a book to anyone else unless I also have a copy for her or she says “I’m gonna get you Shawn!” Again, this is not my name! I found it hard to believe that someone that is on this familiar of a level with me could not know my name.
Finally, one day I said, “I’m not Shawn, Mrs. Lilly, I’m Steven.”
“You’re my Shawn.” She said. Now I was even more confused! But, hey, if this sweet old lady insists on calling me another name, what’s the harm?
Then the craziest thing happened. Mrs. Lilly brought a friend to meet me and she said “This is Steven, he’s my shawn, the preacher.” And it finally hit me! She wasn’t saying Shawn at all! She was calling me her son this whole time! As I mentioned, her toothless speech can be hard to understand. Here I was feeling that she didn’t even bother to remember my name and the whole time she loved me enough to call me her son! How often do we miss what we mean to people and what they really mean to us? How often do we miss the blessings of human connection and compassion that God gives us? Sometimes I have to take a step back and realize the blessing of being where I am and having the place in people’s lives, and the people in my life, that I do.
“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits” - Psalm 103:2 NIV
“That is why you are no longer foreigners and outsiders but citizens together with God’s people and members of God’s family” - Eph. 2:19 GW