There was Linda who spoke Jesus with her voice and with the way she stood beside us on the playground. How she whispered words of salvation and forgiveness and life. How she spoke a language saved for seven-year-olds.
Then Alan and those years when he was always present, always aware. There were the conversations: The one where he challenged me to read scripture everyday. The one where he said that guy I was dating wasn’t worth it.
There was Dawn, then Ana. The leadership of 18-year-old girls in this 14-year-old’s life. They told me how to be brave when your friends drink and you don’t. They told me how to date a boy and how not to.
There were the voices of friends who challenged me and shaped me in college. Kristen and Dusty and Molly and John. Jamie and that conversation by the pool at the apartment complex. There were prayers in those years that came deep and ran far, despite my fear that much of my Christian world was faking it.
Jason showed me how to read and how to ask the most important questions.
Lori Chaffer wrote songs that soothed my wounded soul and I’ll never forget how art ministers.
Kelly taught me how to care for teenage girls. Tammy taught me how to make space for others in the midst of motherhood. Tammy’s husband Nathan, too. He taught me the all encompassing “Shalom” and challenged every thing I thought I knew about the Bible. I discovered social justice because he led me to it.
Brooks taught me how to be brave.
My mother-in-law showed me how to bake the bread and bless it.
And Casey and Barb taught me hospitality, parenthood and how to build a life full of people. Pastor Beverly taught me how to sit in prayer without words, and how, when I offer fewer words, I make more room for God’s voice.
Tim Keller showed me the Great Story in all of scripture and how I’m part of that Story.
John taught me to see people with grace. Alysia taught me that motherhood is both gentle and creative. Nanette showed me how to pray and welcome.
Fred and Chuck taught me wholeheartedness and how to offer the gospel to a beautiful and broken world.
Cliff and Christine taught me how to worship. How to hold out my arms with sincerity. How to hold out the bread and the wine with earnest care.
Mom and Dad taught me how to give money and time. They taught me how to be kind. How to read the Bible. How to pray. They taught me how to be honest and keep my promises. Now, they teach me how to give life to family. How to move slow at the pace of children. How to spend 40 minutes constructing the world’s best obstacle course, only for it to be destroyed in five minutes.
My husband Chris teaches me how to forgive every Sunday when I whisper in his ear that I’m sorry. 70 times 7 he teaches me. He teaches me how to sit in the quiet light of morning and pray. He teaches me how to cry on Easter.
These are some influences, but I can never list all.
What about you? Who are your life’s spiritual influences? Are you giving thanks for them this Thanksgiving?
Linking up with the Patheos “Giving Thanks” series.