A good friend recently passed away, and her impact on my life is more than maybe she ever knew. Growing up I felt about as average as average could be. I was good but not great, athletic but not enough to make the team, smart but not at the top of my class.
(I am top row, second from right. Kushi is immediately to my right. Taken in 1998)
One of the bad habits I had developed in my teenage years was to make self-depreciating statements about myself to a fault. I’d try something but verbally tell myself I’d most likely fail (as an out). It was a corrosive defense mechanism that sprang from a deficient self-esteem and lack of confidence.
But then I went to college and met Kushi Jones. She wasn’t a professor or fellow student. She worked in administration, and her office was next to the office I used for a student job. Kushi (if any of you knew Kushi you know this was just her personality) immediately became a friend and mentor to me, a mom on campus while I was at college.
I don’t remember what the conversation was specifically about, but I remember that one day I did the thing where I verbally degraded myself and half-jokingly told Kushi I would most likely fail at whatever it was I was talking about. I don’t remember the exact words but I’ll always remember Kushi’s reaction. She got angry. Mom angry. She looked at me straight in the eyes and sternly told me (something to the affect of), “I never want to hear you talk bad about yourself again. You can do anything if you set your mind to it!”
After that she went on with the rest of her day. She worked on her computer. She did some paperwork. But she had forever left an imprint on my life. Because of her loving rebuke, I did exactly what she said. I stopped verbally degrading myself. Pretty soon, my self-confidence followed and I actually started believing that I could accomplish big things. And eventually, I started achieving those dreams: traveling the world, earning a doctorate, becoming a pastor.
Kushi Jones was a small but absolutely integral part in my life journey, and I’ll be forever grateful for her. Kushi passed away last week from a heart attack, but I look forward to renewing our friendship on the other side.
Be a Kushi in someone’s life. Be a mentor. Be a mother. Be a father. Be an encourager. If you ever think an encouraging thought about someone, don’t let it stop with a thought. Tell them. Change someone’s life.