She sang in a trio and recorded several songs. She went to see John F. Kennedy in Fort Worth on the day he was assassinated. She once worked for the Federal Aviation Agency and was also the secretary at the McCarty Student Center on the campus of Southwest Texas State University. She proofread and typed many articles on an old ribbon typewriter and indexed library books and answered correspondence, but more importantly—she listened to, studied with, fed and counseled hundreds of college students. She spent many hours with lonely elderly women at local nursing homes and visited with others in their homes. She hosted a weekly Bible quiz at the local nursing home, developing relationships and spiritually influencing the staff and patients there. She was the church secretary for many years, and still journals daily, deftly uses her computer and sends text messages. She thoroughly knows and faithfully uses the Word of God. She tenderly cared for her mother, who had Alzheimers’, from 2000 until her death in 2014. When her husband, my father, began his own journey with the same terrible disease in 2010, she lovingly cared for him as well, until he passed away in 2016. She is my mother, Janice Garner.
Now, she lives alone. She has much time on her hands, but different issues prevent her from being as involved in activities as she was in years past. Though she hasn’t voiced it, I have an idea she feels somewhat invisible to the church. For years, she was the one who people sought out for answers. She was part of “Carl and Janice” but now he is gone from this earth. Most of the time, she sits alone and has had to learn an entirely new normal.
Wherever you worship, there are men and women in similar situations. People who have fascinating pasts, who have been—and still are—so valuable to the Lord, will be quietly sitting in the pews. Unless you take the time to seek out these beautiful people, you may overlook them. Be quick to befriend the shy, quiet, elderly, quirky, awkward and even those who seem difficult. Find out who they are and where they’ve been. Help them to not feel invisible, but instead, show them that they are precious in God’s sight, and in ours, too. You will never regret looking them in the eye, offering a hug and sitting down to learn from them. They might seem to be “the least of these” (Matt. 25:45) but when we love and care for them, we love and care for the Lord!