She was more than I had hoped for and I was so nervous to even ask. I had gone to that dear enlightened professor a few months prior and asked him, with fear in my heart, “Could you refer me to a woman who does what you do and might mentor me?” He was quiet and I said, “Was that an inappropriate thing to ask of you?” And, he, true to form, said, “I am just thinking.” And then he said, “I could unequivocally recommend her … and you can reach her husband at his office here and he will get you in touch with her.” And I got the number and kept the paper for months. Two months. I never called. The fear was too great – the need was so great. What if she didn’t want me? What if I were too much for her? After all, she didn’t know me and her husband is a little important and she may think I am – Just. Too. Much. But, I finally did call and he gave me her number and she suggested we meet at a Mimi’s Café to see if God had something for the two of us to do together. So, I went. And she was there and we ate and I unloaded my story and my desire and my need on her – sort of just like that. And she listened, and she even asked if she could take notes. At the end of that meal she gave the verdict. “I think God does have something for us to do together.” And that is how it started.
God did have something. It was she He had in mind. He knew all those years that after the pain and loss and loneliness and fears and tears there would be a season, not right after my return to Him, but soon enough after that I would find her and she would walk with me into very dark places and help me crawl out intact. God sends those soul spelunkers who go deep and know how to navigate the unspoken recesses and draw out His image from within years of darkness and pain. She is one. You wouldn’t really know it from meeting her at first. She may seem just like someone’s mom; someone’s grandma; someone’s wife; someone’s friend. She is all that. But, if you wait and you come, you find out there are skills and insights and even a bit of a tough gal in there who will go toe to toe on your behalf.
She was a missionary child in China when things were not so friendly at times over there. It was another age and she was there with her beloved mother who wrote so many letters every day to people and memorized scripture and knew how to win a heart and how to care for a soul. You wonder where some of this goodness came from. It has rightful roots and then it has its own territory as well. And she loves those whose feet go out to share His love and the Good News and she devotes her life to caring for them and giving them refuge and an ear and a shoulder and a shove when needed. She prays. She laughs and she listens long and hard. She sends up balloons often. That’s one of her dearest phrases: “Let’s send up balloons” or “It feels like we ought to send up balloons about that,” or “There is so much there to celebrate.”
There was a light that came into the darkness and that light was the light of men. And it is her light and she shines that light and does so with boldness and tenderness. Into my life came her light which is HIS light. He brought us together and I told her every little thing. Everything. And she was able to sit still and hold that space with me and love me through it. I tipped over the rock and showed her all the mealworms and weevils living under that dark place and the muck and gunk that ordinary people do not get to see – at all costs – and she sat with me and unearthed it all and allowed it to exist between us. And as she did He moved in mighty ways of grace and did such healing works that I was propelled forward into strength unimagined before. It is a gentle strength in the deeper parts of me now. And it has a life of its own – of His own – that is becoming even stronger as it becomes more gentle.
What became of me came partly through her and in that way she birthed the new thing or at least was the good midwife. And who could ask for this? Who would dare? Yet He knew and He planned and He gave beyond what I could ask or imagine. She. She is my spiritual mother and my dear confidante and one who stands strong and gentle and listens and prays and believes the best and hopes when I despair and sees through and beyond so that I could grow to places He intended. What goodness is God that He would give me her, a fellow sinner redeemed and willing?
And now as she ages, and life takes its turns it is my turn to care and carry some burdens on her behalf. Even in spiritual parent/child relationships there is a turning of the tables and we get to return what was so freely given to us. And I freely turn and bend my knee to God for her and offer her my love and support. It seems so small a thing to do for someone who has done so very much. And yet, it seems huge that I could be so equipped at this time to be able to extend strength and to contain love and goodness and faith enough to reciprocate even a little. It is time and I am ready thanks to God and to her.