My mother taught me to pray and her pragmatic faith was handed down to her from her mother. I was the third generation of a “work out your salvation” faith, the kind where you earn what you get, when I met Jennifer.
I was in third grade. She was in high school, maybe 16 or 17—one of the big kids that rode my school bus. The big kids sat in the very back—away from the driver’s prying eyes. One day, when the bus was too crowded, our driver made me and my best friend go to the back and sit with the big kids. I was terrified.
I sat with Jennifer. She never stopped smiling at me.
That day sparked a special friendship. Jennifer started sending me notes, delivered by her cousin, who was in my grade. After she graduated high school, the notes turned into letters. We corresponded all through my grade school days, junior high and high school, and even some while I was in college. We stayed in touch always, even if it was just a Christmas card. Her letters comforted me through my parents’ divorce, friend troubles, and just the regular stuff of life. She shared her faith with me in her letters.
I love the Lord so much, she would say. He makes me so happy! I wish you could know him like I do!
That girl changed my life because she believed in me. Because she told me over and over again that I was special.
I always wished I had a little sister. If I did, I would want her to be just like you!
I’ve been thinking a lot about Jennifer lately. As I read Michelle DeRusha’s new book 50 Women Every Christian Should Know, I am penciling Jennifer’s name into the table of contents—below those weighty names from history.
Because everyone should have a Jennifer in their life.
Jennifer taught me that there is more to faith than discipline. There is passionate love—a living, breathing relationship. As I read through the stories of the 50 women Michelle has chosen for her book, I see that these faith giants knew this too.
And you know what else? This beautiful book does more than makes me remember Jennifer. It makes me want to be a Jennifer for someone else. We’re all creating legacies. 50 Women makes me look closer at mine.
Maybe I’ll pencil my name into the table of contents too.