I (Lisa) am intrigued by the studies, cited by the likes of Malcolm Gladwell, about the speed at which we make first impressions, for better or for worse. This will be a year of building connections quickly with those we hope to serve; we will need to build trust and even some intimacy with people in a short amount of time. That has its challenges, as does the call to faithfulness with a few people over the long haul.
This past two and a half years, we’ve been in a long-haul care-giving relationship with a disabled man. We fully admit, we did it for another income stream in some lean years career-wise, but we also did feel called by God to serve a person in need. It’s challenged and stretched me in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I’ve learned to value what he values, at least enough to engage in conversation about those things, like Gilligan’s Island plots and endless discussions of the bus routes around Los Angeles. The other day he and I sat and made a list of things his new caregivers should know about him, and I was happy to see how well I’ve come to know him. I know his ten favorite and four least favorite foods; I know that he prefers not to be touched, I know the top chores he does well, and I know that he needs help knowing when it’s time for a haircut. His quirks have come to have a certain charm for us.
It can feel like we’ve been the victims of a certain speed-dating mentality lately. We love our old (1907) home, but many of the potential renters in our area have a high value on brand new construction. Hardwood floors and charming stained glass windows hold little charm for them. We want to say, “Come get to know our house; hear its stories, notice its forty rose bushes and six fruit trees!” It seems they’ve been quick to see the downsides—that second floor bathroom built into the slant in the roof such that a standing shower is impossible, the wear and tear on those hardwood floors. Last night as potential renters left far too quickly, I felt some of what a speed dater might feel at the end of a bad evening: rejection, discouragement, wondering what we could do to make our house more attractive, wondering if it will ever get takers. It’s early days still, I know. I just hadn’t realized the process would take the toll it has.
So, friends, as you pray for us: celebrate with us finishing well with our care-giving long-haul, and pray that we could care well in many, many short-haul situations this year. And please, lift up a prayer today for the right renters to find their way to our truly charming, patina-filled abode!
Rich and Lisa Lamb