I just finished reading a portion from the Bible where John the Baptist is preparing the way for Jesus to come into the picture to preach , serve, and heal the nation of Israel and the Gentiles. As I thought about this, I began to run through a little list of people who prepared the way for me...preparing me to be the person that I am--and the person that God ultimately wants me to be. I truly believe that all people come into our lives for a reason...either to prepare us for something, or for us to prepare them for something. In essence, I believe that all of our relationships have a specific thing that God wants to provide for us--whether it is just some fun memories that will sustain us during the tough times, or wisdom to help us avoid life's pitfalls. Either way--each relationship that we cultivate here leaves us a little different than we were before that relationship was established.
The first group of people that prepared the way for me was my family. My mom taught me the importance of knowledge, reading, writing, and communicating to the rest of the world. She instilled in me the desire for excellence, and a warped sense of humor that haunts my friends and family to this day. The older I get--the more like my mom I become--and I appreciate that trait now more than I ever have. My dad is a quiet man--maybe because he could not get a word in edgewise between mom and me. He did not say much, but when he did, he meant exactly what he said. Dad is a man of honesty and integrity. He expects respect, and gets it because of how he treats others and the example that he sets in everything he does. He is a humble man--and would do anything he could to help another person. To have parents like this, I am truly blessed to have them preparing and showing me the way throughout my life.
My granny is also another person who prepared the way for me. Granny Agnew was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was about 12 years old. She is the one who taught me about having a stubborn faith in God when life gets tough. Granny was a woman of great love and grace. She loved her family with all of her heart, and in her last days, she used them to teach me more about life than I will ever be able to fully understand. Granny loved to read, sing, and spend time with me. She was the one person who knew how to make me feel like I was truly special. I guess grandparents have a way of doing that. Granny passed away when I was 15. I hope if she is looking down from Heaven that she is proud of who I am...and knows that I finally got a few of the faith lessons that she left me with in her last days.
Another wonderful lady who invested a great deal into my life was my High School English Teacher Mrs. Vastola. She is the reason I decided to major in education. She took time to talk with me and to get to know me during a really difficult time in my life. She shared those ups and downs with me. She encouraged me, and most of all, she did not accept my excuses or any pitty parties. She was a great friend when my granny was in her final stages of cancer, and ironically, she passed away shortly after graduation from cancer herself. She made me realize that a good teacher does more than just teach a subject. A good teacher gets to know her students and inspires them to find their passion and chase after it in a way that makes the world a better place. I wish I could thank Mrs. Vastola for that gift--and her investment that I take with me each day of my life.
The funny thing about this is that I am finding that recalling one person, leads me to another person--which leads to another in an endless chain of people who have given me wisdom, grace, the desire to seek knowledge and truth. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to know these special people, and hope that I can pay that gift forward to the people that I encounter everyday.