I still remember the first time I met her. We were in a Bible Study together. I didn’t get to know her very well but she made a big impression on me. She knew God. She knew Him in a way I wanted to know. You could see Him in her, in her answers, in the way she carried herself. I knew then she was someone I wanted to know. Someone I wanted to be like. And like so many before her I thought I would just watch her from a distance.
Months would pass by before I came into contact with her again. This time she was leading a study called Beloved of God. I sat there week after week just absorbing the truth she shared. She walked us through truth after truth about who we are in Christ. That He calls us beloved. He called ME beloved. She shared how God collected our tears in a bottle. He collected my tears, each and every one of them. I remember sitting there thinking it must be a pretty big bottle. The tears I have cried over the years were numerous.
During this same time I was meeting with our assoc. Pastor for counseling. I remember sharing parts of my life with him and saying that I really believed that somehow God was going to use it all. He asked me if I had met Sally. Well I knew who she was but we had never really talked. He encouraged me to meet with her. It took many weeks before I was brave enough to call her and ask her to meet me for lunch. She was a woman I wanted to know but figured she would never really be my friend.
It’s funny how we make assumptions about people before we ever really meet them. I wonder how many relationships I’ve missed out on because I just assumed they wouldn’t want to know me. My view of myself was so skewed that most of the time I just knew women like her would never really be my friend. They wouldn’t want to know me and even if they did know me they would abandon me. Oh yes, I had issues! Don’t we all?
The day came to meet with Sally and I instantly loved her. A woman so filled with the grace of God. A woman filled with so much love. But still something deep within me said to hold back. Don’t let her know the real you. The dark side of who you are. It was that deep part of me I so often held in a safe place where people wouldn’t see. I couldn’t let them know who I really was.
As time moved on Sally and I would come into contact every now and then. We’d attend the same Bible Studies. We emailed back and forth quite often but not much face time. I remember shortly after I took on the leadership of women’s ministry Sally came to me and said that she felt that God had knitted our hearts together and she wanted to come along side me to encourage me as I learned to lead. I had barely gotten to know her over the last two years and she wanted to mentor me? Come along side me? Why? I didn’t understand what God was up to but I did know I needed help! I needed the wisdom and experience that she could give me.
From that moment on God began doing a work in me that I didn’t even know I needed! God used her to touch parts of my heart that I thought were long dead and buried. As time went on I would share parts of my story with her that no one knew. Her love and acceptance of me never changed. I shared some of the ugliest parts of me with her. She just continued to show me love and grace.
Do you know what she did? No matter what I told her, no matter how awful I thought it was, she would remind me of who I was today. She would constantly remind me of who I am in Christ. No matter how ugly I thought I was she would hold up a mirror and show me who she saw. She saw a beautiful woman who was beloved of God. She kept telling me the truth of who I am until it finally sunk in. She didn’t give up on me.
Even now, 10 years later, if I forget who I am in Christ she will remind me. There are so many ways she has impacted my life. I have written about them here, here and here. In the truest meaning of the word she is my spiritual mother. She nurtured me toward a place of healing. She nurtured me toward a deeper relationship with Jesus.
God used her in my life to touch those places in my heart that only a mother could touch. Today, even from a distance, she continues to be an important part of my life. She, along with another dear sister (I’ll share her story next), have taught me you really can stay friends though you are miles a part. Women do not always abandon you, they can be apart of your life always.
She has become apart of me. A part of the woman I am today.