My Grandma Patty was a pretty remarkable lady. She was kind of the magnet who held together my dad’s side of the family. You know, one of those matriarchs who is the heartbeat of the family. I don’t know of a more loving, kind, patient, and generous woman on God’s green earth than Grandma Patty.
She had this way of looking you in the eye. When anyone came over, even if it was just one of my girlfriends pit stopping with me on our way home from college for a weekend, Grandma Patty treated her like the most important person ever. She would have paid just as much attention to her as to the Queen of England. She dropped everything just to talk with you. Meals were simple, the dishes could wait, and her house was casually messy all the time. But from the moment you walked in the door, you felt valued and important.
Grandma Patty was a photographer of simple, beautiful things and simple, beautiful people. She saw things that no one else would care to notice. As a nightshift IV nurse, she used her spiritual gift of chatting to melt away people’s anxieties during their hospital stays. She also took the saying “the more the merrier” quite seriously. She would regularly take all four of us grandkids, along with our five cousins, and their friends through Portland on the Max line to the zoo. One grandma and eleven plus kids, ages five and up, to the zoo! Can you even imagine? As a kid it seemed totally normal, something any rookie grandma could handle, but as a mom, I now realize what a total boss she was. It’s no wonder she had a purse the size of Everest containing everything from sandwiches to bandages to an umbrella. Now that I think of it, she had a leg up on Mary Poppins.
I find myself trying to emulate her in many ways. I want to look people in the eye and really see them the way she did. I want to be able to make anyone feel like an honored guest in my home. I want to be free and easy with my time when it comes to spending it with the people I love, and I want to spread the same kindness and simple joy that she was able to so generously. I want to be just like her.
We all need a good role model, someone to emulate. We humans seem to be hard wired to want to copy others. We can clearly see this played out in our culture. Whether it’s keeping up with the Jones or trying to look like our favorite celebrities, people simply can’t help trying to mirror someone else. However, finding someone worthy of being copied is getting to be harder by the day. We see plenty of people whose lives look appealing on the outside, displayed to us in airbrushed perfection on our phones and TVs, but it is becoming harder and harder to tell what is genuine character and what is actually an unattainable facade.
Even biblically, the heroes of the faith tried to model their lives after God’s law, and hopefully all of us in the “big C” Church try to model our lives after Jesus. We would be lost without someone to emulate, or something to aspire to. It’s how God designed us.
In Malachi this week, we see two examples of role models. Our first example is that of Levi. He was a great role model. He revered God and walked with Him in peace and uprightness. Wow! What a guy! It’s no wonder people sought his teaching and advice. God provided an incredible role model for the priests to look up to. However, as we read in the next few verses, instead of emulating Levi, the priests became the second example of a role model — a bad one. We read that they used their positions of influence to cause others to stumble with their teaching and to show favoritism. They were bad examples of what a godly man or woman should look like, and the people of Israel had no other positive role models to imitate.
Knowing that mimicking is hard wired into our DNA, we have to direct that urge toward a good, solid role model like Levi, because if we don’t, we may end up copying or becoming a bad one without even realizing it. We need to find a godly woman, and I mean a real, flesh-and-blood woman who you have actually met to emulate. Find a woman who acts a lot like Jesus and start to model your life after hers. Even better, find a woman who you can get together with occasionally and pick her brain about how she came to be so awesome. Ask her about her values and how she makes tough decisions. Find out about her faith walk and watch closely to how she raises her family, or treats her husband, or serves in ministry. There are so many wise, Jesus-loving, godly women in our church who are worth emulating. Go find one, and do her the honor of asking her to teach you a little bit about living a God-honoring life.
Likewise, whether you realize it or not, you have people seeking to emulate you too. Whether it’s your own children, or kids or younger women you work with or serve alongside, there are always people looking up to your stage in life, whatever it may be, hoping to learn something. We should be looking backward as well as forward. Look forward to a woman you want to be just like in a few years, but also look back to set a good example for those who are coming up behind. You want to be a positive, godly role model to them, too.
We should strive to be women worthy of being copied because our generation is starving for solid role models who can point back to Jesus, not set unattainable standards on social media. I want our church to be full of women who people in our community can’t help but want to emulate. May we each intentionally seek to live like Jesus a little more each day.