Today I want to tell you about my friend Steph. Well, actually we started off as strangers in my junior year of college. Flashback to my first day of Physics 106 lab in which I, well, sort of threw myself up to her study table - in tears - because I had no idea how to even attempt the first day’s assignment. (I mean seriously, I need to speak with whoever thought to combine math & science!) I noticed that she – Steph – had been helping some of the other students and literally the first thing that went through my mind was ‘she is my only hope!’ Thankfully, she was super nice and not annoyed with my unlearned physics brain. She quickly invited me in while she explained interia, the Law of Newton, and what exactly happens mathematically when an apple falls from a tree. :)
I think by about our 3rd Physics lab together we got to talking and she said she had seen me at church, and she asked me if I wanted to be in her bible study that she led on campus. Well, little did Steph know at the time that I was usually hungover at church, half asleep, and hardly paying attention. But, “Sure,” I said, I was up for coming to the bible study – I mean why not? I had a bible.
So I went. And about 30 minutes into it, I was super uncomfortable. As I was listening to this group of girls talk through verses in Phillipians I felt a sense of unrest. I realized that there was much more to these words than I had ever known. There was certainly a lot more meaning coming out of these girls’ mouths’ than I had ever looked into. And, I couldn’t add in one piece of thought, comment, or opinion because I had no idea what these words meant that they were reading through. I stayed the entire bible study that night, just listening to these girls talk, almost in awe of the way they internalized these verses and made entire conversations off one sentence in the bible. After this first group bible study I think Steph sensed my confusion, unrest, and mind full of questions …because the next day she offered to start meeting up with me once per week, one-on-one. She said we could go through a book and talk about it. So, we started meeting up at a coffee shop once a week. And you might think the story ends there, and that we became instant friends. But, oh, not so fast. Poor Steph had quite the challenge in befriending me. You see, once we started digging into the bible together I started feeling conviction in my heart. Conviction that the way I was living did not match up to what I was reading. These were not good feelings and what I now know is that I was coming face to face with my own sins and I didn’t like it.
So, I would often skip our coffee sessions, sometimes just not showing up. Steph would leave me voicemails and I wouldn’t call her back. When I did show up to our coffee times, I would sometimes argue with her and find myself in tears. But, Steph never gave up on me. She kept calling, kept writing me encouraging notes, and yes, kept helping me with physics. And, little by little we studied God’s word together. It wasn’t easy. I dreaded the feelings that would come up, but I could tell Steph loved God, and that she lived it out. I knew from the smile on her face that she was fulfilled and happy and hopeful, and I wanted that. Looking back now I realize that Steph was what my church calls a ‘spiritual mentor’. And, there was something about the way Steph mentored me that stands out in my mind. And, that is that she always pointed me to God’s word, the bible, and she let the word do the conviction in me. There was no watering down the bible, and for a new reader like me, some of it was tough to swallow. But, Steph always pointed me toward the bible, letting it move in my heart, and then from there she helped me to understand what I was reading. From Steph I learned that there is a way to speak truth with confidence that says there is no middle ground. You either believe this or you don’t, you either live this or you don’t . You can’t be wishy washy and stand somewhere in the middle. When I was confronted with God’s word I felt the heaviness of this choice on my heart, but I never felt judged or brainwashed by Steph, and I am thankful for that. Looking back I see that God used Steph as part of the path that led me to Him. God opened my eyes and pointed me to the hope of a Savior. And, Steph was a seed along that path. I am thankful for her boldness, and for her love. It’s a hard balance but she got it right. I’ve told Steph before how much she means to me, but it’s worth saying again with this post. So, the story ends happily in that we became friends! On my wedding day Steph prayed over me up on stage, and even then I don’t think I realized how symbolic that was for my life…..because, I am sure that she had faithfully prayed for me many times before that, and I didn’t even know it.
I just want to encourage any of you other spiritual mentors out there to not give up. Even when you get stood up, even when your phone calls aren’t returned, even when you feel like you are getting no where. God can do amazing things through you. Don’t give up!
Steph and I taken at her wedding a few years ago. :)