Thursday, September 16, 2010
Nothing Ordinary About Them
I've had the privilege of sitting across a table with some amazing women this week. None of them have had best sellers published or starred in a movie or television show. Outside of their own sphere of friends and family, you wouldn't even know any of these women but that doesn't change the fact that each of them is amazing.
First, on Monday morning I had breakfast with my friend, Denise. We get together infrequently to drink tea and share what's happening in our lives. Denise and I haven't known each other a real long time, but we share some things in common that draw us together and we are a good "listening ear" for one another.
The main thing that we share together is our faith walk. Denise loves the Lord with all her heart and has such a tender, sweet relationship with him that I love to be with her.
Over our meal of omelets and muffins, she told me a story that I simply have to share (with her permission) because it was so encouraging to me.
First let me say that when I look in the mirror, I see an ordinary woman. I mean it. Sometimes I look better than ordinary because I've won the "what do I do with my hair?" contest or I've dressed in a way that hides some of my flaws (a small miracle, to be honest) but by most accounts, I am ordinary at best. I would describe my friend, Denise, the same way. Neither of us has a face that would launch a 1,000 ships, if you know what I mean. We're just garden variety, "somewhere in the middle" age women.
BUT! Denise is a superwoman of faith. Humble. Loyal. Honest to a fault. And she has an incredible prayer life. Her life mirrors many of the people I know. She came to Christ as an adult. Her husband is still an unbeliever but she continues to pray for him daily. She has two teenage sons and a full-time job.
Denise works for a huge, world-wide, well recognized company that is in the business of making people happy. As is often the case, when you pull the curtain back from a place like that, you find that its a bit of smoke and mirrors. Denise works behind the scenes in an accounting capacity. She has worked for this company for nearly 25 years.
The short story is that one day, in the middle of her daily routine, she was told by her supervisor to come with him. She soon found herself in a very small room with an "interrogator" and three other people of in supervisory position. Denise realized almost immediately that she was being accused of stealing from her company. For four hours she was drilled, questioned and put on the defensive. Talk about terrifying!
She calmly walked through all her processes and procedures, showing the investigator exactly how she does her job. But as she was telling me this story, I kept thinking how scary it would be. She had no warning and she no chance to prepare herself for the meeting. I asked Denise if she had an advocate in that room with her during all the questioning. She smiled and said, "Only Jesus. He was in that room with me the whole time. He was standing behind my chair with his arms wrapped around me." Wow! That's a beautiful picture. When I asked her what her demeanor was, was she crying, etc. She said she was very matter of fact, she said, until one point in the conversation when she felt like the investigator was trying to get her to confess to something she would never do (embezzle funds). Denise said, "It was the only time I raised my voice. I shook my finger at the guy and said. 'I am a Christian. Jesus is my Lord and Savior and I would never do something like this.'"
After she was finished with the investigation, everyone left the little room except Denise. She was just sitting there all alone. She looked around the room, knowing she was probably still being taped or videoed, and she prayed aloud, "Jesus, please help me. I know I am innocent and you know I am innocent. Help me." What a great response. She placed all of her hope and trust in her Lord and Savior, knowing he was in the room with her. I would hope that I would have handled myself as well as Denise. Of course, she was completely cleared of ANY wrong doing and she is back at work, a bit wiser and more wary but more than anything grateful that God protected her, her integrity and her job. I thought as I drove away from our time together - that girl is something special. She's a warrior!
Then, on Tuesday night, I was invited to a home by my friend Fayanna along with 3 other women for dinner and prayer. All five of us have kids attending California Baptist University and all but Fayanna have a new freshmen there. She invited us to gather, get acquainted and then pray over our kiddos.
We all had a chance to tell our story around the dinner table. I was so impressed with these girls. All of us were mothers who had given their child over to God. All of us thrilled to have our "babies" at this great Christian school and thrilled that, from all initial indications, our kids were thriving at the school in just a short period of time.
Daphne, Cathy, Denise, Fayanna and Cyndi. Five women with very different backgrounds and stories, but linked by that immeasurably wonderful reality that we were all sisters in Christ. We talked and laughed, ate and talked some more. I am pretty sure Fayanna's sister Cora, who lived in the home where we were meeting wanted us to go home sometime before daybreak but it was just so lovely to be together: expressing fears and concerns, telling stories of God's incredible faithfulness and providence, discovering "small world" connections that drew us closer together. Finally, the joy of sitting around a quiet living room praying purposefully for our children as they begin their college adventure: What joy!
All these women, by the world's standard would be considered ordinary. Not worth a second glance and yet, to hear their stories and to sit at the very throne of God with them in prayer reminded me again that it doesn't matter at all what the world thinks of us. In God's eyes we are all anything but ordinary.