When I was 17 I met a woman who would change the way I look at things for the rest of my life. But she wouldn’t realize the impact she had on me until 20 years later. Alane was beautiful, cool, full of life, and crazy in love with Jesus. Alane was the kind of woman you watched. The kind of woman that younger women wanted to grow up to become. I paid very close attention to how she lived, the things she said, and the grace that she offered so many. But I was 17. It would have been uncool to tell here just how much she affected me. So I kept quiet.
I saw her again about 5 years after I graduated from high school. She was glowing, carrying her second son, and her smile was as big as ever. We chatted about how I had gotten married and had a toddler now, and there she was about to be a mommy a second time. It was a short chat, but even then I was watching. Much had happened since I had seen Alane. She had had to make some tough choices, and had decided to live a life of forgiveness and grace. She probably didn’t even know that I knew of her struggle. She was never one to complain or point out how she was the bigger person. Instead I just watched her ruffle the hair of her oldest boy, and lovingly rub her swollen belly.
And then she was gone again. This time I wouldn’t see her smile again for almost 20 years. Life went on. We both added more children to our families, ironically having children that are very close in age. I was so excited when Facebook offered her as a friend suggestion. I clicked on her name, and prayed she would remember who I was after all these years. You see, Alane was who I wanted to be when I grew up, and now I was all grown up! (Little secret…she’s still who I want to be when I go up! I’m not at Alane status yet!) She was still beautiful. She was still strong, and she still had that serene look of being at peace. Both of our lives have taken unforseen turns. I buried a husband, and she had become a single mom raising 3 boys and running her own business. Despite a few bumps she seemed to have life figured out. And in the midst of heartache she still oozed JOY.
So last week I was faced with a dilemma. My husband is an excellent skier, and he wanted to plan a ski trip. There are a few things you should know about me. I’m terribly uncoordinated. (I’m the girl who can break her toe just walking to the kitchen!) I’m only a so so skier. I hate cold weather. I get bored easily, and am not really an outdoorsy person unless it involves sea and sand. So imagine my excitement about the prospect of FIVE days of skiing. I was in a panic. I clearly needed guidance. So I jumped on Facebook and messaged Alane. “Katie, I love your honesty, and I don’t like the cold either. But I would give anything to wake up next to a man that loves me. And I would travel to the ends of the earth if it meant feeling his strong hand on the small of my back as we walk into a room. GO KATIE. TAKE THE TRIP. When you love somebody you make sacrifices. I promise it will be worth it.” I cringed because I knew she was right. I might end up in the emergency room, but I needed to agree to go. And I needed to smile the whole time. After all, how many times has Pete agreed to go to the beach with me?
Yesterday I was at lunch with my sweet husband, and skiing came up again. I was determined to be positive. But he surprised me. “Katie, do you really want to go skiing for five days? I’m concerned that you would be miserable, and it seems like a lot of money to spend for you to hate every moment. I mean, I can see you skiing maybe two days. But I don’t think you will have fun.” “Pete, I’m afraid you will be hurt or disappointed in me if I don’t go. I love you. I don’t want to hurt you or seem selfish. I mean….will you still love me if I don’t go with you?” “Not only will I still love you, but why don’t I send you to your dad’s house at the beach that week? I know that would make you happy.” I texted Alane and told her about this crazy plot twist. You know what she said? “THAT IS AMAZING!!!! That’s what love does! I’m proud of you.” She was right. Being open to the needs of someone else made him more receptive to my needs. We both felt loved, appreciated, and understood.
For one brief moment I was Alane reincarnate. I made her proud. When I wake up tomorrow I will try again to live a life of grace and love, and strive to have another Alane moment. Strive to live a life of grace, joy, forgiveness, and great shoes! Here’s to Alane.
(I was going to post a pic of her, but my daughter said that was creepy!) Trust me, she’s beautiful inside and out!