I paid a bill tonight. Oh, not online as I usually do. And it wasn’t a Visa bill or a car payment. It was a life bill. The kind that presents itself unexpectedly.
I’ve owed this payment for a while now.
A young friend, a woman I know from the small church fellowship I attend, had dinner with me this evening. Rob is out of town…I’m spending the week working and home alone. She and I had talked a few weeks ago, said we should get together sometime. When I got back to Ketchikan on Monday, I called and suggested dinner this week.
So tonight, she came over, and we sat and talked. We talked about life, and marriage, and choices, and inspiration. We share a love of quotes, and discussed writers who motivate, favorite books and websites.
She had a need, and maybe I did too. She had a need to hear what I could say, and I had a need to pay a bill. To pay forward the generosity and sharing of so many women in my life who have sat with me and listened and rained wisdom on my circumstances. These conversations helped shape my thoughts, gave me hope, held me up.
And I believe, in a small way, that I paid a little of that debt tonight.
My young friend is strong and big-hearted. She’s motivated. She knows what she wants. She just needs encouragement to do what she already knows to do. She needed to talk and be heard by someone who could listen; really listen.
I told her a bit of my story, some of the ups and downs of my life. I told her what had worked for me: strategies to get over the rough times, the times when you question and second guess and wonder if you’re doing the right thing or if you’re just too weak to do it differently. And I began and ended by saying clearly: I have not figured it all out. I don’t have all the answers.
But this I know: I am a better woman today for the struggles I’ve experienced. And now, memories of the hardest times are as sweet as memories of the best times. Because without the one, there could not be the other. The struggle created the better me, and the better me, the Sheila that so needs grace in life and drinks it in like water in the desert…that Sheila knows the value of the struggle in a way that the younger and untried version of myself could not have understood.
So, I paid forward. To those women out there reading this who have sat beside me and been a bridge to now…thank you, thank you, thank you. I don’t know where your legacy may end. But I believe we created another link in the chain. And one day, maybe years from now, my friend of tonight will be the one realizing that she is paying forward, sharing with a next generation the wisdom of women who came before.
It is a priceless heritage. I’m proud to be a part, and to have paid a small portion of the bill I owe.