“but the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight.” - 1 Peter 3:4
This verse reminds me of my friend Diann who was laid to rest this past Wednesday.
That I can call her ‘friend’ is still amazing to me because I don’t have many friends. I have scores of acquaintances but, for me at least, the term friend is reserved for a few who desire to be my friend and who accept me in spite of all my quirky ways. Diann was one such person.
We didn’t have regular correspondence; it was spotty at best. Yet the last time I spoke with her and told her how sorry I was that I didn’t keep up a regular correspondence with her, she assured me that it was alright. She told me how often she thought about me and about how much she cared about me and my family. She didn’t lay a guilt trip on me or chide me for not being a better friend. She was just her usual kind and gentle self.
I cried at her funeral. I have never cried at someone’s funeral like that. It began when her husband, standing beside her open coffin, said, “Isn’t she beautiful?” The cancer had ravaged her terribly and the funeral home could not hide that fact with makeup. But he was right. She was and is still beautiful. The cancer could not take that away from her because it was given to her by her Savior, Jesus Christ. Though her physical body perished, her spirit lives on in heaven. One day she will be given an incorruptible physical body.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to get to know this beautiful woman. I know our meeting was directed at the hand of God.
Soon after we moved to where we live now, I began seeking out an older woman who could mentor me as Titus chapter two speaks of. I couldn’t find one and it frustrated me greatly.
I remember going to a retreat for women that was organized by our church’s ladies group. The guest speaker for the event gave a presentation on finding one’s strengths in order to best use them in the church. There were four categories. After answering the fairly involved inventory of questions we were to separate ourselves into four quadrants which represented each category and thus find others who shared our strengths.
I found myself standing in my categories’ quadrant with one of the eldest ladies in our church. I was excited! Maybe I had found an older woman who would share her wisdom of God’s Word and life experiences with me. Our particular quadrant was for people who have a bent for intense study. I eagerly asked her, “So you really like in-depth Bible study?” No, she didn’t really enjoy it. She had made a math error in figuring her score. She belonged in the group which likes to do parties, events, and fun stuff. She shuffled off into that quadrant. I stood there alone in my quadrant and watched the ladies in the other quadrants laugh and talk together. My quest for a Titus 2 mentor seemed to have hit a roadblock, again.
Funny, when I met Diann I didn’t realize that she was that mentor I had hoped to meet one day. Maybe I had stopped looking for a mentor by that time. Actually I was going through one of the darkest valleys of my life when I met her. I don’t think finding a mentor was even a consideration at that point; I was just in survival mode trying to get from one day to the next. It is interesting now, looking back, to see that this was the moment God chose to have us meet.
Up until I met Diann, those passages in the Bible about biblical womanhood found in Proverbs 31, Titus 2, and I Peter 3 were only mental images or ideals for me. When I met her however, I saw those passages lived out before my eyes. They are more than wistful ideas; they can be lived out in a woman’s life if she submits her life to God.
And now she has gone to live eternally with her Savior whom she loved. I am left with one less friend here on earth but I will hold her memory in my heart and my head. She was the mentor I had thought I’d never find. The lesson she taught me was brief but powerful. May it never fade from my memory.