What We Gonna Do Without Ethel?

by Andy Wood on October 27, 2017

in Enlarging Your Capacity, Esteem, Five LV Laws, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Legacy

Woke up this morning thinking about Ethel and Velma. These two ladies, who shared the same last name, lived together. Velma had been married to Ethel’s brother, who had died sometime earlier. Ethel never married. So in their latter years, these two sisters-in-law shared a house, along with a lot of family love and memories.

And quite a love for God.

Whenever I would go see them, it always felt like holy ground.  It was that classic case of going to be a blessing and winding up leaving with the greater blessing. Each was in her own way a marvelous encourager, and each in her own way a hell-stopping intercessor.

As time and age took their toll, eventually death came calling, and Ethel answered the door. I went by to see Velma, who had encouraged me so many times, to try to be an encouragement to her. While I was there, someone else came by, and I’ll never forget Velma’s first words to them. In her beautiful Southern drawl, Velma asked rhetorically, “What we gonna do without Ethel?”

In at least 50 years, if not her entire life, Velma had lived in a world where Ethel was a striking, powerful, loving presence. The loss was palpable. The hole left by this woman of God was yawning and deep.

But this wasn’t just about Velma’s loss. Ethel’s passing was felt by an entire community. A church. A town. When Velma said “we,” she meant WE.  Here was a woman who, in her own kind and quiet way, profoundly touched virtually every life she touched. Without pretense or putting on airs in any way Ethel faithfully brightened her corner of the world.

Velma was no slacker either. Even in her grief and loss, when she asked that question – What we gonna do without Ethel? – she fully intended to do something. Loss meant anything but limbo for her.

I Want to Be Like Ethel

I woke up this morning thinking about Ethel and Velma.

I want to be like Ethel. I think you do, too, even though you probably never knew her.

Ethel made such a profound impact on so many lives. And she did so with plenty of potential excuses. Even when she was bedridden in her last days, she still wielded a tremendous force for God and good.  I want to do something like that with my life. With my potential excuses. I want to be like Ethel, to make myself that important that people would ask the same about me. How about you?

I want to be like Velma

Meanwhile, Ethel’s sister-in-law was no slouch in the faith and character department. I want to be like Velma, recognizing the value of others in my life who contribute so much. Ethel’s death was no surprise – we all saw it coming. But Velma felt it the keenest for obvious reasons.

One thing I know is true – Velma didn’t wait until Ethel was gone to recognize what an asset and treasure her sister-in-law was. She valued that relationship while she still had time to show it.

I want to be like Velma. I want to show people who add value to my life how priceless they are to me. I want to learn to speak and practice gratitude to the living, as well as honor the influence of those who have gone on before me. How about you?

All of us are standing on somebody’s shoulders. All of us have received a hand up, a word of encouragement, or life-changing truth or instruction from somebody. Maybe it’s time to honor their influence by paying it forward.

I want to be like all the Courageous

Like Velma and so many like her, I want to be like all of those who recognize and mourn their losses, but still have to have the courage of facing and embracing a new day.

What we gonna do without Ethel?

We’re going to rise up.

Move on.

Honor Ethel, and learn from her example.

Mourn our losses and carry her banner.

But make ourselves just as irreplaceable as Ethel was.

I’m a better man because of the influence of these two women of God, both in life and in death.

I want people to say that about me one day.  What we gonna do without Andy?

What will they say about you?


Martha Orlando October 28, 2017 at 3:25 pm

Amen, Andy! Such two godly and remarkable women. You certainly are blessed to have had them in your life.
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