Last Friday Will and I went to a wedding. A wedding is all about people. Yesterday I attended my grandmother’s funeral. A funeral is all about people. Tomorrow is my first born’s ninth birthday. Birthdays are all about people. How do we get away from the truth that life itself is actually all about people? How do we end up thinking that what matters is a spiffy house, tastefully decorated, or a fashionable wardrobe, or skinny thighs, or an upwardly mobile career, or being mindlessly entertained? It doesn’t make a lick of sense. Yet we have this amazing propensity toward priorities that are distorted, illogical and predictably unfulfilling.
At my Gramma’s funeral yesterday, many shared about how much their lives were touched and inspired by this incredible woman of God. We talked about how my grandparents had the model marriage, loving each other with boundless passion for more than 66 years. We talked about how she loved us unconditionally, how she was fiercely loyal, and lovingly protective, even in her old age. We talked about what an amazingly fun person she was, her big laugh was easy to elicit and fantastically infectious. My uncle Nate, her youngest son, talked about how “she knew how to show up.” When Gramma entered the room something changed. She had a sort of star power, a magnetic charisma that is a gift God doesn’t often bestow. It warmed the room; it warmed your heart. She was truly salt and light just as Jesus instructed us to be. (Matthew 5)
Virginia Lois Southern married Wayne Cummins out of love, and from a human standpoint their life looked like it would be hard. My grandfather was in and out of the hospital for months at time, with osteomyelitis. Her family wondered how he could support their daughter, much less a family. But by God’s grace, a cure was discovered just a couple of years later, and my Papa went on to build a very successful business, securing an extremely comfortable life for his family and an ability to also give very generously to those in need. So my Gramma knew plenty, and later in life she knew what it was to have little. Her life was truly marked by great joy and great sorrow. And I am so proud to say that she trusted her Lord Jesus through it all.
As I sat on the airplane last night and reflected on the day, it occurred to me that Gramma’s life was really about one thing: people. First and foremost, the person of Jesus Christ, and then her husband, her children and grandchildren. But Gramma also wooed the people she passed in the hallway, and the waitstaff at restaurants. She exuded grace, and her spirit and demeanor conveyed a respect and a love for all. What a woman! What a celebration of life! What a legacy!
This week, in honor of Virginia Cummins, may we spur one another on to right priorities: people.