I met Mary five years ago at McGregor Hall at EKU. She had filled out a card saying she might be interested in joining a Bible Study with CRU and it was my job as a new leader to visit with those who indicated interest and invite them. I remember seeing that she was from Whitesburg and thinking that I’d finally have another East Kentucky gal around! (Because as us Colonels know, being from Kentucky is really a minority at Eastern KENTUCKY University. Haha.) From the time Mary opened her dorm room door, I knew that she would be a dear friend. Over the next two years, I had the great privilege of getting to know Mary and about her life, but most importantly, her relationship with Jesus. Mary was one of the first girls that I shared the Gospel with, and I remember being soooo nervous, afraid that I would present something wrong. Mary was quiet and attentive the entire time, and when I asked her what she thought about it, she replied that she loved Jesus and had accepted him years beforehand. I loved getting to know all of the girls in the Bible Study, however, I had the honor of also discipling Mary throughout those two years. I will never forget the times we spent in downstairs/upstairs Powell, laughing, reading, praying, crying and talking about life and the Lord. We prayed through many difficult tests and trials, and from early on, there was always a prayer for Mary’s future husband. I remember the day that Mary told me about the possibility of meeting a guy named John, and we prayed right there for whoever the Lord had planned for her. Little did we know that the Lord had John planned, and what a blessing it was to see how this great guy pursued Mary and fell in love with her wonderful heart for Jesus and others. From the moment she knew he was the one, to the engagement and marriage, we celebrated an answered prayer and a relationship that reflected God’s love and glory.
I write this with a very sad heart, as yesterday Mary lost her earthly love, John, in a car accident. Two years of marriage seems like too short of a time, but we are thankful that through all of the tears, questions, pain, loss and grief, we still have HOPE… a hope in the one who hears our prayers, sees our sadness and will be the only comfort for Mary and her friends and family. A hope—and promise—that one day we will see John again.
My heart breaks for my sweet, sweet friend. It hurts. It’s sad. I don’t like it one bit. But despite all of the hurt, rejection in life and frustration at times with the human race, it just makes me want to love even more. As cliché as this sounds, and as many times as I’ve heard it, don’t be afraid to love. And I’m not just talking about the romantic kind of love (even though you shouldn’t be afraid of that either), but really LOVING PEOPLE. Take a second and think about what this looks like for you.
(1…2…3… okay, 3 seconds)
Is this hard sometimes? I will be the first one to say yes. However, I think it’s the least we can do—or at least try to do—for the great act of love that Christ showed on the cross. Love looks different to different people—it might be the words itself, or actions, attitudes or prayers.
So I ask that you start your first act of love for my friend Mary, and the journey of hope and love that is going to look very different than she might have thought. I love both Mary and John, and love that the Lord brought them together, if even for a short time.
Never forget to hope.