Yesterday, I attended a memorial service for Mae Malm. Mae was ninety years old. I first met her when I started working at Christ Community Church in 2005. She was the wife of one of my coworkers, Irving Malm. Irving was the Pastor of Senior Adults, and the two of them served joyfully and faithfully. Unfortunately, I chose not to see that back then.
When I first started working here, it was easy to make jokes about Mae. She was eighty-five years old, her health was declining, and she had “quirks” about her. Some of the staff at the time made jokes at her expense. I joined in. Instead of choosing to find out more of her story, I chose to fill in the absences of information with my own details. I chose to go with the flow because I was new here.
I’m embarrassed by this now. I was a punk. I was a mocker. I was arrogant. I was an idiot. I sinned.
When you’re young it’s often hard to comprehend getting older. It’s hard to comprehend that what age can take away in others, with regard to various mental and physical capacities, can happen to you. It probably will happen to you, but you don’t think about it because you’re young and going strong.
Over the past few years, I’ve been humbled by God in a number of ways.* I’ve seen how I’ve had a lot pride. As I’ve repented, and grown, my perspective on others has changed drastically.
*I’ll be detailing some of this in an upcoming post. The post is written, just waiting on something before publishing it.
Irving and Mae were always together. Sixty plus years of marriage when I first met them. The joy and love they had for each other was evident.
I remember staff meetings and the discussions would be about some issue relating to CCC. Every now and then, Irving would clear his throat and ask to share. He’d then remind everyone that it’s all about Jesus. He’d remind everyone of the mission, the legacy, the core of what CCC and Christianity is all about. It was easy to write off the remarks. “Yeah, yeah, we know that.”
It’s so easy to get off track, though. It’s a slippery slope, and then your pursuing something else instead of Jesus/God’s call. Irving knew that, had seen that over is time in ministry, and faithfully reminded us to keep our focus on Jesus so we don’t get off track.
One time, I showed some clips from King Of The Hill at a staff meeting. The clips were from an episode titled “Reborn To Be Wild” and dealt with Christians getting caught up in the culture of Christianity at the expense of being Christian. Some of the staff came up to me afterward saying they liked it, but wondered/heard that Irving and Mae didn’t like it. Irving came up to me later in the day, telling me how he liked the gospel message being presented in different ways. He liked that it was reaching people. Even if he didn’t personally like it, he saw the big picture. It was reaching people that may not normally be reached.
Irving and Mae were all about Jesus. They were all about loving and serving others. They were always caring and gracious toward the staff. Every time I saw Irving and Mae in the halls they greeted me with a smile and asked how I was doing.
I’ve though of this in recent years, and then I think of how I was a punk when I first started working here by making fun of Mae. I didn’t know the details of her declining health. I didn’t know the details of why they were always together here at the church. I chose not to. I was not loving at the time.
Now, I think about Irving’s incredibly love, care and service for Mae. I’m challenged and inspired by what it means to be a loving husband “till death do us part”. I’m challenged by their family and ministry legacies. I’m honored and humbled to work at a church, and be a part of a denomination, that Irving and Mae served in for decades.
Before the service, I saw Irving in the hallway. He was talking to someone, so I didn’t want to interrupt him. He stopped the conversation he was having to greet me. He had a smile on his face. We hugged and then proceeded to talk for awhile. Humbled and honored by it. I was a punk before, but he always had love for me. He took an interest in me, as he did with all the staff.
Irving has said that he’s sad because he misses Mae, but he’s also happy because she’s in Heaven with Jesus now. Mae is in heaven, experiencing fullness of health and life that she hadn’t in the latter years of her life.
Being at the memorial service for Mae was wonderful. It was great to hear stories and see pictures of her of when she was younger. It filled in more of the gaps I had, it added to the depth of her story, it showed the faithfulness of Irving and Mae, it displayed the love they had for Jesus and each other.
Not only do I hope to live to ninety, but to also have the kind of vitality, passion and love that Irving has. I hope Jana and I have the love for each other, when we are older, that Irving and Mae had. I hope to have a legacy like the two of them do.
The funeral was good so people could celebrate the faithful and wonderful life of Mae Malm. For me, it was also good to go because it was a reminder of the person I use to be, the arrogant, sinful punk. Thankfully, that person was put to death as well.