Hope you’ve had a fabulous week. I can’t believe it’s almost July — summer is flying by. I’m grateful to be spending the night in my own bed for the first Friday night in a month. Chill summer weekends are the best!
Last weekend we were in Auburn, Alabama for a swim meet. Auburn has such a pretty campus, and such a cute little town. On Sunday, I went to church in the lobby of a hotel, just like I did last year at the Auburn meet, except this time I took Sam and Nate with me. Because of sensitivity with my eyes, I can’t sit in natatoriums for hours on end, so I try to pop in for races, and attend shorter sessions. My husband watches every race he possibly can, but sometimes I skip out on Sundays and go to church instead, not to be holier than thou, but to protect my eyes.
So, the three of us elbowed our way into a crowded hotel ballroom and wonder of wonders, what was the sermon text? That’s right Philippians 2:1-11. In other words, it was the third sermon I’ve heard on that text in four weeks. The similarities and differences have been fascinating, but it did make me wonder when it will end — this bombardment of Philippians 2. What else do I need to learn?
This pastor, much younger than the other two, didn’t shy away from controversy. He talked about how social media, while not universally bad, can fuel comparison. He called out those who exalt themselves and show an unrealistic highlight reel of their lives on instagram. Then he shifted gears and addressed the problem of envy. He talked about how difficult it is for people to truly celebrate others. It made me miss my parents all the more. Because celebrating — both the simplest little things and the most profound — is when I miss my mom and dad the most. Honestly, celebrating the daily joys, life’s tiny momentary treasures is the hardest thing about not having parents. Then this week was their 60th wedding anniversary and I ended up living out a great story to share with my dad.
In the summer of 1993, my dad and I were driving from Michigan, where I had spent the summer, back to Florida, to where I went to school and my parents had conveniently moved. My car broke down in Dry Ridge, Kentucky. We rolled to a stop on the side of I-75 less than a tenth of a mile from an exit. He decided that he would push the car up the exit ramp, while I steered. I was 21 and he was 61.
Being the master of the concise direction, he had only a few words for me: “Whatever you do, don’t touch the brake.”
Six years later he had a fatal heart attack. I can’t even tell you how thankful I am that the tremendous physical feat of pushing a car up an exit ramp didn’t precipitate anything but a lot of sweat and years of laughter. We were stuck in Dry Ridge for two whole days waiting on a part, and we ate every meal at the Shoney’s next to our hotel. It was hilarious.
But I’d give anything to tell him about how I’ve passed the “when-necessary-push-it” baton. On Wednesday all five Jacksons saw Apollo 11 at the IMAX in downtown Chattanooga. We’d met there from different places, but parked in the same garage. When we went to leave Dub’s car wouldn’t start, even with a jump. Tired and hungry, we left it there. When Dub and I went back to get it yesterday I decided — since a regular tow truck could not possibly tow it out of the garage — that the best course of action was to push it out of the garage onto the street with easy tow-access.
It might prove a lifetime of instant laughs to recall “pulling up” to the kiosk thingy where you pay for parking — Dub pushing, me steering. I don’t know how many of you have had the experience of paying the parking fee from a dead car with a steerer and a pusher, but it’s pretty funny. Fortunately, there was no one else in the garage at the time.
We got it out to the road with a lot of effort on Dub’s part. I was trying to convince him that steering a dead car is actually work too, but I don’t think he was buying it. We determined that four feet from the curb was probably not sufficient. We needed to get it closer like an actual parked car, but Dub needed a break. Plus the road had a slight incline. I put the parking brake on because I was worried about the car rolling back on him. We rested for a few minutes and then gave it another whirl, this time he would steer and push and I would push on the passenger side. Sadly, I forgot to tell him that the parking brake was on. We were using every muscle fiber in our bodies, and the car was not budging. Oops! I should’ve listened to my dad: whatever you do, don’t touch the brake.
I don’t think it’s hard for people to mourn with those who mourn, or maybe even to rejoice over funny tidbits like generations of pushing dead cars. But rejoicing over the more significant blessings of others isn’t always easy. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I want to be someone who does this well. I want to be the kind of person who appreciates how meaningful it is to the blessed to have others rejoice with them. I want to celebrate others with the mind of Christ. How about you?
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, Philippians 2:4-5
How can you celebrate someone in your life this weekend?