Initially, I had planned to write about fear of death because I had mentioned it to a friend the other day. Instead, I’ll talk about my friend Brenda.
I don’t know if I’ve written about Brenda before, or if so, at what length, so I’ll start off talking about how I met Brenda.
Brenda and I first met my junior year at Princeton, but it wasn’t until my senior year that I got to know her. I remember her singing on the worship team at NCC a few times and just generally being a really cool, nice person. During my senior year – her second year in seminary – she functioned as the worship leader for NCC and I saw her much more often.
I remember the moment: it was the point in the service where people could come up to the front for prayer. I guess the service was very moving because I went up that night (something I had never done) and asked for prayer. Brenda prayed for me. I don’t remember what she said and I don’t remember what it was about – although I could probably guess if I really wanted to – but I do remember breaking down right there and crying.
A short digression about crying:
I don’t cry an absurd amount but I do cry more now than I did when I was younger, which is something I’m actually really proud of. For me, crying is another way I get to chisel away at the emotional walls I’ve put up over the years. Maybe it’s not quite that but I guess it’s representative of the fact that I’m less closed off than I was before.
Back to the main story.
I cried a lot in that moment. I had already known Brenda a bit but after that moment we got to know each other more. Eventually, I came to her and asked her to mentor me, something that she had kind of anticipated already. Thus began our relationship.
I talked to Brenda a lot, probably every other week, and she taught me a lot about relationships, friendship, life, the future, God and probably anything else you could think of. She helped me when I was deciding whether or not to take a job straight out of college. She helped me figure out how to talk to a friend about how I was feeling about future plans. She helped me think through my Columbia vs. Rutgers decision. She’s helped me with more things than I can say. Outside of my family members and maybe my senior year roommate, she’s been the most constant, helpful, advocate and friend I’ve had over the past few years.
I’ve been emailing Brenda back and forth because she’s in China now and I miss her and love her. We’ve just been catching up, talking about nothing and everything. I mentioned something to her in a recent email and her response made me shake my head a little bit. It was the kind of response you might have if your parents tell you to be careful when you tell them you were walking around in Manhattan at 1am. You know you probably won’t die if you’re walking around Manhattan at 1am, they’re just being parents.
So that was my response. I didn’t think much of her comment, though it did jump into my mind every so often. The thing is, you know you probably won’t die if you’re walking around Manhattan at 1am, but it’s not that you can’t die. It’s not that people haven’t died walking at 1am in Manhattan. It probably happens all the time. Does that mean you shouldn’t walk? Of course not! Does not mean you should tread lightly (pun intended)? Maybe!
Brenda’s comment wasn’t even exactly, “don’t walk around Manhattan at 1am!” It was more, “Huh, so you’re walking around Manhattan right now and it’s 1am?” In any case, we weren’t actually talking about walking in the city. We were kind of talking about stewardship.
I like stewarding my resources. I generally tithe and give an offering and it’s not a huge issue for me. I like it. It’s kind of fun. I actually like to steward many things. I like giving my time, my skill set, even a listening ear. But stewardship is more than just giving. Being a good steward doesn’t just mean spending your resources wisely, it means managing them well. And I think Brenda knows that I’m not great at stewarding my heart in either extreme. Either I’m the man who buried the one talent or I’m the son who spent all he had.
One thing I’m learning, or at least trying to learn, is how to love constantly while stewarding my heart. Even if love really is all or nothing, which I’m actually not sure of at the moment, you still have to choose when to go all in and when to fold. I find that I like the idea of going all in, but I don’t always like the end result. Because sometimes, when you go all in, you win big. But other times, you lose it all. And sometimes it’s best to just not play the game.
I don’t know. Time is a beautiful thing.