They survived my watch

I’m part of the sandwich generation. I have a mother, age 91, who lives with me. I also have a 17-year-old Pomeranian.

On the other side, my 28-year-old daughter still lives at home with me. My 25- and 24–year-old sons left home seven months ago (but who’s counting).

Then they left me. No, not my mother or dog, but my incredible wife and my sister. They went away for four days and left me alone to take care of my mother and dog. It would become four very long days.

I know what my gifts are. Taking care of others isn’t one of them.

At my mom’s age, she forgets. She’s not sure if she has eaten or not. It was my job not only to feed her, but to cook her meals. I found myself panicking.

Three meals of PB&J were not going to cut it. In addition, when my wife goes away, my dog stops eating.

I’m not going to tell you my mom had cereal the whole weekend. She had hot meals. I discovered what she liked. My dog, on the other hand, did refuse to eat.

When my wife came home, I rose up and called her blessed. I made sure she knew all were present and accounted for. I immediately turned “my watch” over to her. The next day, I saw her effortlessly cook and serve my mother meals. This went on meal after meal after meal. The next week I called her and asked her what she was doing. She replied, “I’m trying to feed your mother but she’s giving me a hard time.” Yet I never saw her get flustered or dismayed.

Very different from her husband. What was the difference?

I was trying to operate outside of my gift sets. I know what mine are.

Put a microphone in front of me and I feel like I died and went to heaven. I love to eat, but I’d give up food to speak in front of a crowd.

My wife is exactly opposite. She won’t speak in front of a crowd. When I had a live radio show as a young pastor, she wouldn’t come into the studio with me. She was afraid I’d ask her to speak on live radio. She chose to wait in the car.

What is going on?  When I operate in my strengths, I shine. When I step outside of those gifts and try to look like I have it together, I stumble. I don’t shine. It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s pretty ugly.

My wife’s gifts are very different from mine. You won’t see her in the spotlight. You won’t see her center stage. She prefers to quietly work behind the scenes, letting other people be the upfront people.

She is one of those quiet servants who make the world a great place; it’s just that they’re not noticed.

None of us can be all things to all people. We need each other.

Get a copy of the book, “Strength Finder.” The thrust of it is that we are not to strengthen our weakness. Rather, we are to strengthen our strengths.

I’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, live well, my friend.

The Rev. Tony Marciano is executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission, which provides a free, long-term Christian recovery program for men and women addicted to drugs and alcohol.

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