How to Be a Good Citizen

When I pull in the parking lot for work on Monday morning the moon still hangs low and round in the silver sky. I climb out of my van and stand in this sea of cars and tilt my head up to see. It’s a gift on a glum morn and I whisper thanks and let beauty lift for a moment. It smells like rain and as I walk the block to the hospital’s doors I see dew has sealed leaves to the sidewalk like a licked envelope. I wonder about the messages folded underneath—what kind of secrets have soles walked away from on these streets? The air smells like chimney smoke and there are whispers of fall all around and I drag my feet through the ER, nod to the security guard, and hit the elevator button.
This is what I do.
They all seem to get to me today but there is always one. And he tells me I just want them to look at me—treat me like a person. And he paces in that wheelchair and I can see the pain in his eyes and I tell him he can’t take it personal. The world is full of people who look straight through you. So when I look at him, I try tosee him and I wonder all day—is it so wrong to want to be treated like you matter?
And as I labor under fluorescent lights, a few blocks down one of my best friends is taking an oath of citizenship. She stands next to forty other immigrants and makes a promise and listens to speakers and eats cookies made by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Later, another friend and I, we take her out—buy a pitcher of margaritas and some chalupas and she tells us about the ceremony. Her brown face shines and she wears a handmade American flag pinned to her lapel.
When you become a British citizen, she says. You don’t swear allegiance to the country. You swear it the queen—to the monarchy and its descendants.
She’s done this before, but it’s different this time. For so many reasons. She’s had a difficult year but this night?  We cover her with laughter and love.
Next morning, I put on my running shoes and step out. I am welcomed by a cascade of yellowed leaves when I turn down my favorite country road. The birds are flocking in huge waves and their arcing flight gives my feet wings. I am thinking about citizenship…and allegiance to a Monarchy.
But the descendants? I’ve never considered this.
The grasshoppers keep overjumping and they scatter before me—sometimes landing with sticky legs on my arms, my cheek. Tired goldenrod still dips low in the meadows as I pass but the ironweed is fading. The Walnut trees are letting go of their fruit and those green balls line this narrow hollow like sentinels. A lonely cow lifts her gentle face and follows me with her eyes. She chews her cud, twitches her ear.
We are all the descendants.
After dinner, we take Lucy Mae walking and my youngest, he stays close. He knows I’ve been struggling lately, he always senses these things.
I’m sorry I’m so grumpy, I say. I just feel so mad. Because life isn’t fair and it really is true that nice guys finish last. I’m tired of being nice.
He takes my hand and his arm rubs against mine and he leans his head on my shoulder. I can feel his breath on my cheek.
And just like that I feel it disappear. All that anger lifts like a balloon into the night sky.
This is who I am.
I give my allegiance to the King. And to His descendants.
Because we are all the descendants. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to be treated like you matter. There is nothing wrong with needing to be seen—wanting to be covered with laughter and love.
This is our true citizenship. To do this for one another. To love this way. So I will keep doing it.
No matter how tired it makes me. 
This week’s memory verse:
 Check previous Tuesday posts for prior verses.  

For memory cards of the whole book of James visit this post.

With my sweet friends Jen and Jennifer: 


  1. smoothstones says

    I just kept thinking about Galations 6:9: And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. I understand your weariness. Praying for you.

  2. Dawn Paoletta says

    This is so beautiful…Yes. This is who I am. Amen. We are His…and He does this for us and in us HE IS and we rejoice because well…we can do it for one another. We can keep on…thanks, for your words here, and in my corner tonight as well. 😉

  3. kingfisher says

    It seems like a lot of us are tired of waiting, tired of being un-noticed, and of wanting “more”. But God sees us as special, anyway. Even when we don’t see ourselves that way. How fortunate that our true citizenship is in heaven, with Christ as our King. We don’t grasp the wonderfulness. Oh, to think that the mighty Creator of all would bend so low as to fellowship with us, to write our names on the palms of his hands, to want “good” to come out of our brokenness. Hold on tight to him, Laura dear. He’s promised to carry us through. How we have to hang on to that promise — yes, even when we don’t “feel” it could possibly be true. Praying that you and your family will pass all the endurance tests of this life, and come out winners with Jesus Christ Victor.

  4. says

    This is a beautifully written post. Its so important to truly see someone else and notice them, … the comfort and healing touch of God can be shared through us, if only we remind ourselves of our true citizenship. Lovely! Blessings to you

  5. soulstops says

    can feel the tired but hopeful beat of your heart through your beautiful writing…I get that ache of wanting to be seen, and I’m so glad your boy saw you, and was kind…your words made me think of Psalm 73…think you would relate to his words…glad you got a run in..praying God continues to lift your spirits and let you know He sees you, beautiful you, and He delights in you, dear Laura 🙂

  6. pastordt says

    Love this reflection, Laura. And I’m with Dolly on this one – so glad your boy saw you and that you saw yourself. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to be treated like you matter. And believe me, Laura, YOU MATTER.

  7. says

    ‘I see dew has sealed leaves to the sidewalk like a licked envelope …’
    I love this. Your writings always hit home. And visiting your site is always like a breath of clean, fresh air, with all that white space flowing around your words. No ads and lists and pictures to distract.
    We all need more white space in our creations!

  8. says

    I notice you. And I love Him more through you. Truly. This is worship here, sweet Laura. It’s remarkable how *truth* is the key to guarding our heart.

  9. says

    When you honor your patient in the hospital–when you see him, and when your son honors you by seeing you, you are reflecting your citizenship in heaven. You and he are honoring both the King and his descendants, doing on earth his will as it is in heaven. And so you give this world a foretaste of heaven. Love you, girl.

  10. caughtinhisnet says

    What a powerfull message! It’s so true, we all just want to know we matter.
    I never thought of myself as a descendant before!

  11. says

    Me either, friend :). It opened my eyes to what it means to “pledge allegiance”. I want to be loyal to my brothers and sisters–my Christ family. Thank you for stopping by.

  12. Donna says

    Thank you for such a powerful message. Thank you for not looking through people but seeing us as our creator sees us through eyes of love.

  13. says

    Oh, there have been times when I am just as guilty as anyone of doing this, Donna. Sometimes I think I am more deliberate about seeing in my work than I am with my loved ones. Always, always I can do better at loving.

  14. says

    Those birds were one of my morning run photos, Megan :). I have a thing for the birds on the wire too. Right now the Starlings are making me crazy with their migration. It makes me long to fly…

  15. says

    Thank you, Linda :). My blog design is the work of the beautiful and talented Kelly Sauer. That girl knew just what my heart needed in a writing space. She has a special way of seeing, that one :). And you do too, I believe. Thank you for your sweet words tonight.

  16. says

    And I’m glad you got a walk, Dolly :). There is nothing like getting outside, is there? That’s where I feel God strongest. Maybe it’s heaven breaking through the sky, don’t know…

  17. says

    Oh my land, miss Laura, this is one of your best pieces.

    And look, here you are in the comment section! How long has this been going on? I’ve been slow-going out here in Blogland after my concussion, but to see your beauty full face is a God-grande gift indeed.

    Still praying…


  18. says

    Darlene, I’ve been slowing down at much these days too:). I hope you are mending nicely, my friend. Please take it easy–I know I don’t have to tell you about the cumulative effects of repetitive concussions! Praying all is well in your world.

  19. Cheri says

    And you do it with such grace! Beautiful you!
    My own brother is one of the invisible people. He doesn’t complain.
    It truly hurts my heart! Thank you for giving!
    Love you, girl!
    ps. I am back to bloggy world! Would love for you to drop by sometime. 🙂

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