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 Rocks in a Jar

Ever since my “invest in people” nudge from the Lord referenced in “Walking My Mother Home,” I’ve paid more attention to those little nudges. Following that first nudge has led to dramatic changes in my life including my friendship with Rosa, Pedro’s mother, and my one-on-one investing in others who God puts on my path.

This is the story of a recent people investment that had profound results.

I was pleasantly surprised a few weeks ago when I got a call from Sandra, a new friend my husband and I met at a marriage workshop we recently attended in California. My surprise turned to sadness when I heard her brother had passed away. Sandra had dropped everything to fly to Washington State to see him before he died. On that short trip she hadn’t had time to meet with me, but would be back in town for the memorial service.

A few weeks passed and I was surprised to see that the memorial service was scheduled at the country club a mile from my house. Initially Sandra had hoped we would connect over a cup of coffee, but her time was filled with family obligations. That was perfectly understandable.

Regardless of that, I knew I would go to the memorial service. I didn’t know Sandra’s brother. I didn’t know her family. I barely knew her. Yet after an intensive weekend together in couples’ counseling sessions, we already had a heart connection. I didn’t consider not going.

After hugs on my arrival, she seated me next to a relative and bravely took her position up front with the immediate family. As the service started, I felt a nudge to record the proceedings. That isn’t totally out of character for me. My digital recorder is an indispensable tool for my writing. I didn’t really give it a second thought.

Family members read letters filled with sweet stories and memories of Sandra’s brother. The chaplain shared a story (author unknown) about sand, pebbles and rocks filling up a jar. The point of the metaphor was that the rocks are the important things in our lives—the people and things we can’t replace—and that we should make them a priority. If we fill our lives (the jar) with the unimportant things in life (the sand and pebbles) we won’t have room for the rocks. It was a fitting reflection to end the service.

When Sandra and I connected after the service, she mentioned how disappointed she was that her elderly mother couldn’t attend the service. She so wanted to have the service recorded but there were family objections to that.

“Really? That’s so sad,” I said. I felt goosebumps as I remembered I had recorded the service. I confessed my transgression to her. She was thrilled and started to cry. Sandra proceeded to tell me how anxious she had been about that for the past few weeks. My recording was answered prayer for her. It was a kiss from above and a reminder of God’s amazing love for us.

Sandra and I stole some time together on the deck of the clubhouse overlooking the golf course, basking in the warmth of the sun. We caught up on our lives, prayed for each other and reflected on how perfectly God had filled our jars on that very day with what was truly important—time together and the simple gift of following a nudge to invest in people.

What are you filling your jar with?

~ Ardis A. Nelson