Last Friday I discussed some of the personal advantages to staying the course with a particular church. One advantage I didn’t mention is the ability to watch children grow into functioning members of society. I have been so thankful for the faithfulness of parents who raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord; not losing heart when signs of defiance occur, whether in a preschooler or a teenager. Seeing those who have gone before me has given me hope and courage in the raising of my own children. Not only that, but some who were mere babes when I first came to be a part of this congregation are now my dearest friends. One such example of this is my friend Abby.
I first met Abby when my three younger children were 4 and under. I was in need of a babysitter, and Abby was in need of a job. She is the older of three sisters, all of which are dear friends of mine now. But Abby was the first. I would pick her up at her house and visit with her as we drove home, where I left her holding down the fort with my three babies while I went on errands. I enjoyed those visits in the car with her, but struggled to get past my expectations of her (not your stereotypical home schooled pastor’s kid). She surprised me with her love of Terminator movies and suspense novels. Honestly, I had a little trouble connecting with her at first. When Abby finally got a “real” job, she passed the baby sitting responsibilities on to her next sister, and for a while we lost contact.
A few years later Abby married, and she and her husband purchased a consignment shop which specialized in women’s designer clothing. Meanwhile my younger daughter was growing up, and found herself wanting a job. Abby hired her when she was young enough that they had to be careful not to exceed the limits of child labor laws. Not only did she give my daughter a job, but she befriended her, and mentored her. This put Abby and me back in contact, and we began to build on the foundation of years past. During that time I also started working for her, (which is a funny story in and of itself).
It was during this time that I learned that Abby was an aspiring writer. And once again I found myself struggling to find common ground. She was writing in a genre I didn’t understand, and didn’t really have an interest in. But because I love her, I became an alpha reader of her books, and one of her biggest fans. This was also a time when I was able to encourage her in her marriage, her church relationships, and any other little thing that would come up over coffee.
It is interesting to me that many of the things I advised her during those years (as well as other young women in the church) were the things that sustained me through the first few months with Strokeman. The scriptures I had shared with her came to mind in the dark times to bring comfort and wisdom. I began to realize that while I was serving the church as an older woman, God was also preparing me for a time when I would need to eat my own words. That’s the way it is with community. God is a multi-tasker. It seems that every work He performs in the midst of His people has layer after layer of purpose – many we will never know this side of heaven. But I digress.
I can’t really tell you how it started, but somewhere along the way Abby started texting me on Sunday mornings before church. I don’t recall the reason for the first text, but since then I have come to look forward to her cheerful greeting and our quiet text-versations while I drink my morning coffee before starting to get ready for church. Some days we talk about books we are reading, sometimes about difficulties of our week, sometimes just short banter about nothing in particular. These texts are a message to me that someone out there loves me and is thinking about me regularly. One of the difficulties with chronic illness or injury is the isolation it brings. This little gesture of texting is a much needed connection to something outside my caregiving world.
Gradually over these many years our relationship has transformed from adult to child, through older woman mentoring younger woman, to two women sharing hearts. The years between us have shrunk, and the mutual encouragement and sharing has grown. It is Abby and her blog, http://www.worldsbeforethedoor.wordpress.com, who have inspired me to start my own blog. It is Abby who helped me set mine up, and Abby who makes an effort to encourage me with nearly every post. To say I am thankful for her is the understatement of the year.
I’ll get by!