The words will flow. I know if I bring her to my mind the stories and the words will just flow.
I’ve known her for seven years. It doesn’t seem like a long time, but with the number of people who have come in and out of my life, having one who stays feels extra special to me.
I remember the first time we talked, we talked about hair. And the next thing I know she sent home a hair product with Doug she thought I would like.
I also received a butterfly clip–wish I still had it, but I think it got purged in one of my cleaning phases because at the time it wasn’t that remarkable.
A tree fell on my car, I got a rash, and was planning a birthday party for our one year old. She brought me flowers.
Said one year old would spend her time at childcare during church, screaming her head off, and she would hold and rock her instead of having me paged to come get the inconsolable little one.
The most remarkable thing is that all this happened at a time when I felt invisible in a church I had been in for six years. I remember walking down the long hallway to drop off my two little ones, wondering if I should even be there. She would be sitting at the end, and her face would light up when she saw me. For a moment, I felt like I belonged…that I mattered to someone.
Have you ever had a time where you felt intentionally pursued, like someone just decided that you were for loving? Lord, I hope you have. There is nothing that heals and restores quiet like that feeling, no matter what lies you have believed before.
One unremarkable Sunday when she stopped me in the hallway and asked how she could pray for me. I stared into her eyes and I risked. I told her about a big, impossible dream. And she believed with and for me. In that whole waiting process, she was faithful to carry my burden and my dream and my hope as if it were her own. After several months, the hope I had was disappointed.
In a moment of grief, like any logical person I decided the best thing for me to do would be to go and visit my sister in Uganda. I didn’t want to go by myself, so I texted the one who had carried me, who had seen me, who had loved me.
We flew across the world so I could grieve. She held me while I cried. She taught me how to cling to faith when the bottom had fallen out. She made me laugh and taught me to find joy even in the sadness. She taught me about the heart of my God, and how it so much vaster than I ever could have imagined.
She couldn’t set me free, but she certainly dropped a lot of keys so that I could learn to unlock the cage I had trapped myself in and has stood by me while I tried to stretch my wings.
Maritza Amanda, you are the woman I hope to become. I love you. Happy birthday sweet friend, soul-mate, and sister. You are for loving. I hope you feel all the love today, and that you experience how IRREPLACEABLE you are too all the ones who call you friend.