Every Friday I have the blessed privilege of volunteering at a local pregnancy center here in Birmingham. I spend my time there counseling women who come in for pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, or STD testing. Most women aren’t married, and many pregnancies aren’t planned. I get to know the clients and find out how they feel about being pregnant or not, whether they plan to parent or have an abortion, where/if they attend church, and if they are a believer. I ask about the father of the baby, and if he is supportive of the pregnancy, and all kinds of other questions that help me understand what clients are feeling. Basically it’s an opportunity to love, encourage, and pray with women who most often feel like they’re in a crisis.
It’s incredibly rewarding to be in a position where I can help another person, even if it’s just to listen. I have to say, though, that being there is such a blessing for me personally because I get to volunteer with some of the sweetest, Godliest women I’ve ever known. I leave there every week feeling so uplifted and inspired. I treasure being in an environment where everyone there is eager to get to know one another; where no one is sizing others up or looking down their noses. Everyone willingly encourages and prays for one another and has a genuine interest in each other’s lives. And most importantly, everyone loves Jesus. It’s so, so refreshing.
Doris, an almost 80 year old lady who also comes on Fridays, is one of the most remarkable women I think I’ve ever met. Her life story is so powerful that it’s almost overwhelming for me to think about. She became a Christian as an adult after her husband of 24 years (an abortion providing ob/gyn) left her for another woman. She never remarried. She had a daughter to die in an accident when she was 13. She was an alcoholic. She’d had several abortions herself. She has every reason in the world to have a heart of stone, yet she has a heart of gold. She loves the Lord and shares the gospel with every client who walks in the door. I can’t help but wish to be just like her when I’m that age, and to be like her even now. She is full of the Holy Spirit and it shows in every word she speaks, and everything she does.
Everything Doris ever tells me about herself always elicits a jaw drop from me. If I could remember everything she’s told me since I’ve known her, I would share it. I know anybody else would agree with me that her whole life is a reflection of how much she loves the Lord. Today she was talking about how she hadn’t bought a stitch of clothing for herself in 35 years. I was sure I hadn’t heard her correctly…35 years?!? She told me that everything on her body, even her makeup, was given to her. Shoes, undergarments, everything. She said that she was standing in her closet one day and felt like she heard the Lord say to her, “I will dress you.” And from that moment on she stopped buying her own clothes. And she doesn’t ask for clothes from others, either–somehow she just ends up being given hand-me-downs from all kinds of people. I stood there, stunned. I mean, I hate shopping, but I do it…what woman doesn’t shop for clothes sometimes? I told her that I had just cleaned out my closet and had 3 huge bags full of clothes that I was about to give to Goodwill, but that I would go through them and give some of them to her. She seemed thrilled. I’m thrilled, too. If she can go 35 years being obedient to the Lord and trusting Him to provide, I can certainly be a vessel for Him to use to bless her.
I told Mrs. Doris today a lot of what I’ve written here, that I thought she was so precious, and one of the most Godly women I’ve ever known. She hugged me tearfully and said, “Well, God is good and His Word never returns void.” Such a classic response from her. She is a living example of the woman I want to be…that I pray to be. I want to be so full of the Holy Spirit and of the knowledge of His Word that whatever comes out of my mouth is evidence of that. I’m so thankful that there are people in the world like Doris who are living proof of the redeeming power of the gospel; who live out the gospel in word and deed, and who have surrendered every part of their life to Jesus. She’s not walking around feeling sorry for herself or mad at the world. She’s giving to others what she’s received herself. To see that and be around it every week is beyond inspiring…it’s an unspeakable blessing. In many ways it feels like being around Jesus Himself. But the coolest thing about all of it is knowing that she didn’t have to work hard to be that way. She just yielded herself to Him. And that’s all I, and any of us, have to do, too. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can realize that everything God can do or has in store for us is so much better than anything we could ever dream up for ourselves. I’m not talking about material things, either. He can fulfill us and bring us joy like no other person, place or thing can. I want that. Don’t you?
When I read Titus 2:3-5, Mrs. Doris comes to mind immediately. She is teaching me how to live a life that honors God just by watching how she lives herself. It challenges me even more to live out my own beliefs in front of my family and everyone I know. I don’t want to leave this earth being remembered for being a mom of five, a doctor’s wife, a runner, a pretty girl, the life of the party, or anything that doesn’t count for eternity. I want to be remembered for loving Jesus and for being His hands and feet. More than that I want to pass down that desire to my children and one day grandchildren. It’s not an unobtainable goal. It’s simply a matter of surrendering and being obedient to Him, and that’s what I want to do. There aren’t many Doris’s in the world, but for the ones out there, thank you for showing women like me the love of Jesus by living out His Word. You’re doing kingdom work and you don’t even know it. Should I ever hear the Spirit speak to me such words as “I will dress you,” I will remember Mrs. Doris and her unwavering faith and obedience, and hopefully do the same. After all, the same God who changed her heart can make mine more like His, too. I pray that He will.
“Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame to the Word of God.” Titus 2:3-5