Same job, different uniform.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Six Women I Admire

I am 37 years old. In my daily life, however, my peers are mostly 33 and younger. This includes six women who I won't name, but who I hope will know themselves variously by their ages and by what I am going to write below. These women are 29 (A), 28 (B), 25 (C) , 25 (D), 30 (E), and 22 (F). Three are sisters by marriage, three are friends. I have not known any of these women for the vast majority of my life.

Several of them, at one time or another in the past few years have said or written things about me that express love, deference, and respect. I have been touched and somewhat surprised to find that they are learning from me, that they think I have a good heart, that I have added a quality to their life.

Tonight, during a small Bible group in which three of these women were present, I was struck by how these friends of mine, all younger by nearly 10 years or more, are so much more accomplished than I. Every day of knowing them I am reminded that I may be older, but I am not wiser.

All are Christians - each in different phases of their walk with Christ. All exhibit their Christian faith in different ways.

"A," the 29 year old, is a warrior for her faith. Strong and proud and fabulously well-read (she would deny this while quoting Evelyn Waugh or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but I know most of us don't even know who the first is, and can't pronounce the second), she is outspoken and passionate, and fearless in a way I am not and doubt I ever will be. I can only hope that "A" is at my back if I am ever called to battle.

"A" makes me want to know more about the world, both physically and intellectually. Though a great American patriot, I think she would have been quite comfortable as an ex-pat in Hemingway's bohemian Paris. Her ability to quote a vast array of literature at will is quite stunning to me, and she writes marvelously. (Because of her, I looked up "who" and "whom" to see if I was properly using "who" in an above paragraph - I'm still not sure.)

"B" is 28, but mature beyond her years. She is a tomboy of sorts, but doesn't realize how feminine she really is. I am quite certain that if her husband had not wisely snapped her up at the tender age of 21, she would be spending half her time fending off marriage proposals from men who could not believe their luck at finding a woman who could throw a football and drive a truck, but who painted her toenails and looked like a cross between Meg Ryan and Kelly Preston.

"B" has a servant's heart for God and for others. It is because of her that I am learning to do for others without always expecting reciprocation or even thanks. She unknowingly reminds me that I could stand to do a lot more giving and a lot less taking. "B" has also gently prodded me to find answers to questions about God that trouble me deeply. She probably doesn't know that I am taking her advice because it is wise and necessary.

"C" is 25 and at this tender age has already taken to heart what God asks her to do and be. She is soft-spoken and gentle, quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. If I could only use one word to describe her it would be "grace." It is by grace and grace alone that we are forgiven and with "C" you are always forgiven. She is only human and I'm sure I have said things that hurt her feelings (unwittingly I hope!) but before I ask I know I am forgiven. There is little, if any bitterness in her heart. She works hard at this I know - but that is to her credit.

"C" laughs at almost all my jokes and this makes me feel witty and clever. She asks me for advice and even takes it. This makes me feel wise. I may or may not be any of those things, but around "C" I only feel good about myself. Whether she works at this or not, I don't know - but either way it is genuine and an art unto itself. In a world where it is so easy and even revered to tear down and shred - people, institutions, ideals, religion, morality, innocence - this is no small accomplishment and I aspire to it.

"D" is also 25 and much wiser than she realizes. I am still in the infancy of my friendship with this woman. She recently wed a long-time friend of mine who is also one of my husband's best friends. We have quite different backgrounds and upbringings and though I liked her immediately the day I met her, I wasn't quite sure how we'd connect. But every time I talk to her now I am struck by how emotionally mature and grounded she. I was not nearly so at her age. She is quick witted and sharp, and easily able to assess the nuances in the personalities around her. Tonight, during our Bible study I saw a woman who is poised and quite grounded in her faith - a natural leader, unafraid to be a Christian in a secular world, but wise in her approach.

"E" is 30, and one of the "peas" in my pod. Our husbands knew each other first and were nervous about how we would get along before we were introduced. It was they who dubbed us "peas" about 30 minutes after we met. "E" may or may not know of my jealous heart - the one that secretly envies her size 6 waist and model-esque figure - but if she does she forgives me for it. She seems to believe me to be as pure of heart and mind as she is, but it isn't so. With her as an example though, one day maybe . . . Oh, she has her quirks, but so do I and she is much more accommodating of mine than I am of hers I am ashamed to say.

Not long after we had met, "E" had committed to memory what she knew of my food preferences and the odd allergy or two. (I am still trying to remember, after 7 years, that one of my sisters-in-law has a profound dislike of spaghetti with red sauce.) "E" is feisty and competitive, but I have never known her to be mean-spirited or hold a grudge. She is independent as hell - a quality which I am alternately impressed with and confounded by. I can only hope to one day combine confidence with unconditional love as effortlessly as this woman has.

Last, but not least, there is "F," the youngest of the bunch, 15 years my junior and yet, possibly the mostly closely aligned with me morally, philosophically, spiritually, and intellectually. When I first knew her, it was hard for me to think of her as much more than someone who was still in high school. But in the past four years - three of them spent together in Texas - I have come to know a woman who I can confide in unconditionally, who shares my passions for politics, my rage at certain injustices, my musical quirks, and my vast love of my son. As the first aunt our son knew and his babysitter for the first 10 months of his life, she, more than anyone else except my husband, can relate to the ups and downs I felt during the first months of my son's life. We did not realize until we left Texas and took him with us, that perhaps we were tearing away a mother-sized piece of her heart. The first time I saw the hot, unyielding tears streaming down her face, I knew that she knew a mother's love and I was ashamed that I hadn't realized it until then.

At 22, "F" can handle a baby with the collective ease of centuries of mothers and grandmothers and I don't believe she's ever read a book on the subject. She is wise to these sometimes frustrating, often confounding bundles of joy far, far beyond her years. I am hoping that with a second baby, I will be a more relaxed mama - thanks in part to the wisdom of this "baby girl." And I am hoping that some day we will not be so far apart geographically - but if we are, I know that we will be able to rant together about the latest leftist infidelity like we had just seen each other yesterday.

Thank you, Jesus, for these women that I didn't even know I needed in my life until they were there.

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Blogger Lois E. Lane said...

"G" is not only one of the greatest writers, but one of the greatest thinkers, I know. Thank you for humbly and eloquently sharing those thoughts! Though you are far too modest for someone, as "A" says, one would hate if they didn't didn't love :) I can really only speak for myself, but my own life is richer for having you in it -- a sister, a friend, a role model, a hostess icon. You were an amazing catch for our brother AND for our family. Love you!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Blogger ihearttexas said...

I don't even know what to say. I'm deeply touched, and crying. We're so lucky to have you as a part of our family! Love you!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Blogger girlfriday said...

I admire these women, too, and the author of this post, deeply, for having those rare qualities of sincerity and humility. What would we be like without JEB2?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Blogger 2C4EVER said...

I love the moments in life when you can take a step back and really get a good look at it. Moments like this when unexpectedly you are reminded of just how great God is, how much he has blessed you and who he has blessed you with. And I love it when He shows the day He created each of the day He connected us all to each other. JEB2 you are quite the gal..unlike any other. I truly cherish what great things you have taught me and looking forward to our future discoveries. The world could use more women like all of you.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Blogger girlfriday said...

Amen, B.

We love having you in the family, too.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Blogger Jeb said...

Sisters, all of you -

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


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