On Sunday morning, I threw everything into my car and left Fort Wayne. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone, and I don’t know if the road will ever lead back, but it’s been my home for almost 8 years, and you never love a place more than when you’re leaving it. Everything looked so beautiful and peaceful and comforting and home-y. I have not yet totally internalized the monumental jog in this road, but I’ve had 2 hours on the road to Indy and 13 hours to Florida to figure out what I left there and what came with me.
To quote Steph:
We’ve been neighbors for 2 1/2 years… we’ve gone on dozens of target and grocery trips together, helping each other spend more responsibly. She has brought me chicken soup and sprite on sick days. We’ve kept each other updated of hot clearance items at gap, shared book lists and recipes, made cookies on snow days, and grilled almost every holiday. We’ve each had our ups and downs, but it didn’t matter. It was ok to cry or just be quiet or avoid the real by talking about the weather. Thanks for always being there.
This is what I left behind. Good friends, routines, life together-ness and history.
But next to me is a stack of books selected from a book list Stephanie made—many of which have shaped the way I think and behave, my attitude towards missions and the church, and my awareness and response to multiple crises, pandemics, epidemics and genocides. In the forefront of my mind is the Step into Africa experience I had the opportunity to volunteer for after she offhandedly mentioned it to me in the car.
It got me thinking.
Stephanie and I are both competitive by nature. We’re interested in the same things, but she’s got a long history in international work, missions, refugee work, teaching English, and, well, church. I have a spotty history and a budding interest, but a sincere and growing heart.
It would have been so easy, understandable even, to dismiss me entirely and watch me struggle to figure out how to get from point A to point B. She could have questioned my sincerity or doubted my “calling” for my lack of spiritual maturity or finesse.
As Christians and as humans (I hope this comes out right), we can be so competitive and even jealous, that we sabotage each other in spite of the overall goal. I would have probably done that to me.
But, over the long haul—and I can picture this in my mind like a year-long slide show in Aspen Coffee—she watched and listened as I talked about this plan or that one, each trial and error (mostly error) and conversation moving me closer and closer toward her turf.
And do you know what she did?
She did not gather up all her information, zip and lock her mouth and scoot over a few stools.
She shared what she had. She gave me information. She made a book list. She answered my questions and sent me links to different websites. She read my blogs and helped me get involved in the community. She did not just tolerate the global awareness I kept presenting that she’d had for years, she encouraged me. She told me that she could see God working in my heart and that she was excited about it. If you think I am being dramatic, just go look at her comments on my last 3 posts. I’m serious!
She asked questions without discrediting my sincerity, my heart, my intentions or my capability. She did not try to one-up me or compete. She nourished and fostered something that may not have grown as fast or as strong if she had not been so helpful.
Helpfulness is just not a quality that exists very often. We are exclusive and divisive, competitive and jealous, and usually we’re driven towards being the only and the best. But she acted out of love, which is the lesson I get to take with me.
Stephanie truly loves the world. She loves the world enough to put her own agenda aside and help someone else who wants to love to world, too, get there. Thanks for that. You’re my “I spy” today.
SCAN peeps, thanks for calling today and keeping me in the loop. I miss you guys! And Sprink, well, you know. I loves ya.
Lots of hugs, lots of toasts, lots of well wishes and lots of pictures to everyone who made the weekend special!
This is it, you guys.