I love old people.
I really love old people. I love their wisdom. Their stories. Their joy. Their humor. Their strength. Their faith. Their loyalty. So you can imagine my delight when I had the opportunity to go to a senior center as part of my work today. Our church hosts a worship and prayer gathering at the senior center each month. I couldn’t wait to meet some new (old) friends.
As I walked into the room, my eyes zeroed in on Eleanor. Sweet Eleanor in her navy blue sweater with glimmering snowflakes. I noticed she had a little note that said “You’re the best grammy ever” taped to her walker. “Do you have grandchildren?” I asked. Her eyes lit up and she shared about them. “And we just added a new one to the family,” she smiled.
As the worship and message were beginning, a girl walked in wearing a burgundy polo shirt that bore the center’s name. I figured she was an employee and probably joined the group to make sure things didn’t get rowdy. (Just kidding!).
My eyes were drawn to the girl’s big smile. She had one of those great laughs, too. You know those kind? The belly laugh, eyes crinkled, mouth open wide? I couldn’t help but smile.
At the end of the worship and message, there was time to pray for one another. I felt really drawn to go over to the girl with the big smile, but I didn’t want to leave Eleanor alone. So Eleanor and I prayed and then chatted about her life. A few minutes later, the pastor, who was sitting next to the girl with the smile, motioned me over. “Could you pray for Danielle?” he asked.
Danielle shared some of her story with me. Her daughter passed away in 2012 when she was only 12 years old. With the holidays near, Danielle’s grief was debilitating. As she described the depth of her pain, her soft tears turned into gut-wrenching sobs. My heart broke for this sweet mama as we all began to pray. “God, would you please comfort her right now? Meet her in a way that only you can,” I asked.
After we prayed, Danielle shared a bit about her role at the senior center. That’s when I noticed her name tag. “Danielle — Housekeeper.” Her eyes lit up as she said, “I love these people. I go into their rooms and as I clean, I pray for each of them. When the residents tell me they’re sick, I say, ‘Let’s pray right now! Illness, go away in Jesus’ name!’ I know some people don’t think housekeeping is a very admirable job, but I know I’m meant to be here. My job is more than just housekeeping. When I get overwhelmed with grief or don’t think I’m smart enough or when I think I talk too much, I don’t like it. I want to always be joyful and be there for the people here.” I smiled and said, “Girl, we are going to pray for that! You are a light. When you walked in, I noticed your light right away. Your big, bright smile. You are a warrior. The enemy can’t stop you — Jesus is in you and He’s greater than the enemy. Keep surrounding yourself with community when you start to feel defeated and let them lift you back up. Your purpose here is so great. You are a beautiful light.”
We hugged and she returned to her day. As I returned to mine, I thanked God for giving me the opportunity to meet Danielle. She may be “just a housekeeper” to some, but to me, she is much more. She is a reminder. She is a reminder that wherever you are and whatever circumstances you are in, God is right there with you, cheering you on as you share His love with the world. It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO or the bus driver or the intern or the dishwasher — married or single or rich or dirt poor — God sees incredible beauty and value in you. You are His child and He loves you like crazy. He and you together will turn the most ordinary days and ordinary jobs into extraordinary adventures. You are a bright light in this seemingly-dark world.
And tonight I think Danielle — with her big, bright smile — would want to remind you of that, too.