The following post was started years ago, even though the ending came about rather recently:
I have been mentored by a couple, “Mr. & Mrs. B”, from the time that I was sixteen. I’ve literally known them for half of my life. I stayed with them when I traveled to teach in the summertime. Many of my happiest memories have taken place with them.
They have this amazing retro white Burke pedestal table with swivel chairs. Within the first day of staying with them, I told them that I wanted it if they ever decided to get rid of it. I originally wanted it because I love retro furniture. But over the years, we have grieved gut-wrenching losses and wept at their table. We have laughed until our stomachs hurt. We have prayed together there. They have passionately interceded for me at that table when I could not be with them. I have soaked up their wisdom, eaten with them, been chided by them, and I’ve also heard some very difficult things. It’s never easy when your faults are called out and yet, through it all, I have belonged to them as a part of their family. The table has become a symbol to me of their love, acceptance, and discipleship.
Some years ago, they made plans to sell their house. They are in their eighties and decided to move into an independent living facility. Immediately they told me not to worry, that the table would be mine as soon as the house sold. Well, this past Sunday, Mr. B., told me that the house was sold, and my table was coming soon. Monday morning, though, he called to say that the buyers wanted to keep the table. I was shocked and devastated. I agreed to meet him and travel to their house because they had a different table set to offer me.
I had a long Monday night. I cried like a stubborn child because I wanted the table. I realized that I was grieving more than just a table. I’m so much wealthier emotionally and spiritually due to their influence. I saw the table as a symbol of their legacy. I wanted to mentor a 16 year old girl at that table the way that they had mentored me. Mrs. B. is slowly fading due to dementia. I wanted a way to still feel like she was with me even as we lose her a piece at a time.
So, I got over myself Tuesday and went with Mr. B, praying the whole way for wisdom. When the buyers showed me their tables, I began to silently cry. I apologized, and explained that half of my life has been spent at their table. I explained why it means so much to me. The woman said, “I am so sorry to have you come here. We had no idea. You are so lucky to have Mr. & Mrs. B. I wish we could find someone like that for my 16 -year old daughter.”
“What do you mean?” I asked her.
She explained that her daughter had unexpected health problems, and was really struggling right now.
I blurted out, “Okay. I will mentor your daughter, please, let me. You can keep the table.”
She started to cry and said, “No. You keep the table, and we’d love for you to mentor our daughter.”
Only God could possibly work it out so that I was mentored at a retro table in an old farmhouse for 16 years. Now, I get to mentor a 16 year old girl who’s moving into the farmhouse. I get to have her over to my house, to sit at the same retro white table. I get to show her the love and acceptance that was lavished on me.
Isn’t that what’s it all about?
Because love ALWAYS wins.
***So, I didn’t receive the table at the time. Instead, the renters were manipulative and greedy. They wouldn’t let me get the table, and at one point, they even told me that it was theirs. I was devastated. Eventually, I decided to simply be content that I had beautiful memories which had been made with my mentors. It was a tough journey. At first, I hated that the new residents of the house had lied to me. But then, I realized that if I was bitter, I would be giving them too much power and control over my life.
I forgot about it, until James found the B’s old house listed for sale. We were looking into the possibility of buying a house; and he stumbled upon their listing. I called their daughter, and we talked at length. James and I weren’t able to go through with the purchase of the house like we wished; but I did meet with a very dear family member so we could go through the house one more time.
There sat the table and chairs! I started to get teary eyed and explained the story to this family member. Phone calls were made unbeknownst to me; and as a wedding gift; my mentors’ family surprised James and I with the table set!
Now, we have it in our kitchen, and I marvel at how things have come around. We have our six children, plus the steady stream of college students and teenagers who visit our home. Mr. & Mrs. B. invested in me, and now we get to invest together in the lives of others.
God’s Love does win. Everytime.
My good friend, Marc, used to say, “God’s always on time. He’s never late; but He is rarely early.” It’s true. I have the table set to prove it.***