Tuesday, May 15, 2012

rejoicing.


This weekend, I went to the wedding of a dear friend and beloved mentor.

Is that the term, mentor? 

I'm not really sure. How do you describe those people in your life who are just one step ahead of you, the people who inspire you and love you and take you by the hand and graciously show you the way?

When I was in high school, I didn't always have a place I could fit. In fact, the place I fit best (other than my quiet and cozy home) was at school; it's where my friends were, where my gifts were used and appreciated, where I really grew and thrived. Church was a different story, which looking back is a little sad, since church is supposed to be the place where no matter how weird we are, we all belong and have a place.

Sundays and Wednesdays were a little challenging, then, until a young woman moved to Tallahassee after college to start a new job. She was everything I wanted to be: Pretty and smart and funny and classy and graceful and kind. She paid attention to all kinds of people, to the older and the younger and all the in-between. For whatever reason, we met, and we clicked, and when she asked me to help her teach Bible class on Sunday mornings, I was thrilled.

We taught kindergartners together. It was new and fun and exciting and exhausting, and for once, when the sermon was over and the last hymn sung, I had a place to go. A place where I belonged. It would be a little while before I'd have friends in my own Bible class, a few months -- at least -- before my peers would start to really see me. In the meantime, I had someone. Someone who saw me, who cared. Most importantly, who understood.

I graduated high school a couple of years later and moved to Alabama. I guess, though, God wasn't quite done with our friendship just yet, because a few months later, my friend took a job at my university. She placed membership at the church I attended in Montgomery, became a sponsor of my campus social club, and invited me over to her house for cooking lessons and day-dreaming sessions. (We both left little bits of ourselves across the globe, and we loved looking at each other's pictures and hearing about each other's adventures.)

Leigh never felt like a mentor; she was a friend, but a friend with a little bit more experience. I loved that she didn't keep a television in her house, that she spent her spare time reading and exploring and doing. I loved that she and I had similar interests, that she didn't go to college to get her MRS degree, that she lived a life that was spiritual and full and quirky and fun. 

Our lives have crossed paths often, but when I graduated college, I turned down the opportunity to work in her office. I was worried about becoming too attached to my university right after graduating, worried what it would look like if "Faulkner University" was the only thing on my resume. I still can't be sure what might have happened had I turned my no into a yes, but I'm not so sure it matters. Life, for both of us, has turned out to be lovely. I was ecstatic to have her in the crowd the day I married Jordan, and I was honored to watch her marry her love on Friday.

God sends us, I think, just the kinds of people we need, right when we need them the most. I can look back on my life and see His hand in all of my many relationships, and I know He is so purposeful who He chooses to give us and why. I have no doubt this friend was put in my life to let me know: I am not alone. Her friendship, her guidance, has shown me, over and over again, that it's okay to be a little bit different. It's okay to march to your own drum, to live and learn and grow and change, to be content with who and where you are.

Mentor? I guess I don't think that word quite encapsulates what I mean. I suppose friend will have to suffice.

I watched my friend get married this weekend, and I couldn't have been happier to share in her rejoicing. She so often shared in mine.


4 comments:

Megan said...

What a beautiful post and yes I think the term friend is definitely the right word to use. I love the beautiful image you've used as well. What a lucky girl your friend is to have such a wonderful post (and tribute) written to her.

P.S. What are you thinking of The Secret History of Love? I haven't read it but have heard such great things about it over the years. Apparently it's being made into a film soon too.

Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

jenna said...

This makes me smile. :)

Brittany said...

I love mentors/friends. I feel like I've had so many, and I never tell them how much they mean to me. This was a wonderful tribute.

Lauren said...

What a beautiful tribute to a sister-friend - thank you for sharing