Generally Speaking: A healing genuinessBy MARILYN TINNIN COLUMNIST,
The year was 1994.
There were a lot of things happening in my life, and none of them were very good.
However, like any well brought up Southern girl, I was adept at putting on my smile as easily as I put on my lipstick. (And I really love my lipstick.) Even my closest friends thought I was quite “together.”
My family had recently joined a new church, and while I was shopping for my official ladies’ church circle, a friend invited me to try hers as a guest.
I was careful to wear the obligatory proper face for the other “church ladies.”
I knew exactly what to expect and how to blend in easily.
Isn’t it amazing the way God seems to hunt us down and make us face ourselves at times?
He was after me that morning.
The speaker led off with something like Proverbs 14:13 which says, “Even in laughter, the heart may ache.”
I felt like someone had ripped my mask right off my face.
I remember that my mouth became very dry—maybe my body was reminding my spirit of a thirst that was in desperate need of…something…Living Water, perhaps? I fought the tears for the next half hour as I hung on Barbara Crespino’s every word.
She basically shared her life story, and it was not fairytale or perfect or spectacular in any way.
There had been happy times, sad times and a few significant disappointments — wouldn’t you call that real?
She was very real.
There was a winsome quality about Barbara.
She was easy to love and easy to respect.
She seemed so approachable, but I was dealing with my dry mouth and my close-to-the-surface tears that day so I did not introduce myself.
I didn’t cry either —at least not right then—I kept my frozen smiley face intact, but was very moved and caught completely off guard by her story.
As much as I wanted to talk to her, I was too afraid of losing my composure in front of everyone else.
The rest of the world may not care, but it has always been the mark of a true Southern lady to hang on to a certain stoic dignity at all costs.
Actually, I think that was probably the last time I clutched mine so tightly.
Several months passed before I wrote to tell her the impact she had had on me that day.
Something about her real-heart willingness to show her vulnerability drew me to the Savior she spoke about with such tenderness and authentic devotion.
I knew she loved Him and that she had a distinct confidence that He loved her, too. I wanted to know Jesus the way she knew Jesus.
She had given a significant clue to such a pursuit.
She spoke of early morning meetings with the Lord—before the noisy world intruded.
I had tried the quiet time routine before, but something was different this time.
It is a habit that actually continues to this day.
At times, that habit has served to strengthen the relationship that heals my heart and holds my life together,
And, at times, I confess that habit has been little more than a routine without passion and with little personal meaning as I strayed into whole seasons when I let the world divide my heart, consume my attention and dilute my love for the One who loves me most.
My friend Barbara went to be with Jesus a number of years ago after a very long battle with the “C” word.
We did enjoy several years of friendship, and she was an amazing mentor.
I think of her so often when I curl up with my Bible, my journal, and a hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
Her friendship and her example gave me a gift that has made all the difference in my life.
I am convinced that if we all lived our Christian faith as authentically as Barbara Crespino lived hers, we would quickly change the culture around us.
Just a thought.