(This post originally appeared at www.bethratzlaff.com. We are grateful for Beth’s permission to share it with you here.)
1. There is no age limit on beauty, or on changing the world.
We gather around the table with notebooks, pens, and a generous supply of steaming coffee. Each of the women around this table is vastly different from the others, and comfortable being so. They are alike in some ways. Each is stylish with an understated elegance, vibrant, passionate, stunningly beautiful in a lit-from-the-inside kind of way, and determined to do her part to change the world.
2. Empower people in desperate need.
These women don’t dream of changing the world. They are doing it. (Really! Go to get-hope-global.org to see how they are doing it.) They are old enough, in calendar years and long roads traveled, to have large collections of grandchildren (whose pictures they are happy to share) and retired husbands. They may not know that I have watched them from a distance for more than 25 years. They show me what it is to be a beautiful woman. I am old enough myself to have three grown children and be a mother-in-law twice over, still I learn from them and hope to be like them when I grow up.
We meet all day and work hard with unbroken focus on the HOPE program that equips and empowers women in desperate circumstances. We hardly pause except to admire the darling little dog who curls up contentedly by the door.
3. Don’t fret the interruption. See the person instead.
Ruth goes to the door when the dog, and the doorbell alert her that someone stands there. It is a woman. She wonders if Ruth would pay her to shovel snow from the driveway and sidewalk. I confess that I generally send strangers who knock on my door away instantly. I don’t appreciate being interrupted. I don’t need more magazines, or new siding on my house.
Ruth doesn’t see an interruption in her work; she sees a woman. She sees someone whose circumstances might be desperate, who needs hope, and maybe needs to be empowered to improve her circumstances in a small way. Ruth negotiates a price for having her driveway shoveled even though there is only an inch of snow on it and her“Honey” is right upstairs.
4. Let in the cold.
It is bitterly cold. The second coldest day ever recorded in Denver in November but Ruth doesn’t quickly close the door. She keeps her heart open to the cold too. She stands there until she learns that the woman’s name is Lupe. She persists through a language barrier to give Lupe a pair of gloves for her raw frozen fingers while Susan pours a cup of hot coffee for her. The cup and the gloves are a gift for Lupe to take with her when she finishes shoveling.
What would I have done if we had been meeting at my house instead? Would I have really seen Lupe, or would I have sent her away, because I was too busy trying to help poor women help themselves? I don’t know. I was challenged. I don’t want to be so busy doing good things, and so aware of my own need to be warm and safe that I fail to notice raw red fingers, fail to love like Jesus does.
5. Don’t be too busy to share hope.
Sometimes the person who needs help isn’t halfway around the world. Some days the person who needs a little kindness stands in the cold ringing the doorbell.