When I was a kid I had a “Miss Betty.” If I could give a gift to every child in the world, I would give them all a Miss Betty. Miss Betty was a teacher at the school where my mom also taught and I met her when I was four. She and my mom became friends and I used to go over to her classroom occasionally after school. She was so busy, but she always treated me like I was very special, which is probably why I visited her all the time. When I was seven, my parents bought a house across the street from Miss Betty, and as you could imagine, I went to see her constantly. When I was eight, I named my bike after her. She may not have known it then, but it was a huge compliment. My bike was my prize possession, after all.
After a while I started coming to Miss Betty’s house with other neighborhood kids. I was like the lead ant that finds the stash and goes back to tell the other ants. Miss Betty would come out on the front porch with us and we’d sing praise and worship songs. She occasionally had us all in the house to bake cookies or pies. Let me reiterate, Miss Betty was a teacher. She spent all day, five days a week, with first graders, and then came home to find me and my friends ready to play. She was a busy lady, but she still made time for us.
Heaven help Miss Betty when I turned twelve…. The boy crazy years had officially begun and that precious lady sat in her den for hours upon hours listening to me go on and on about my boy problems. She gave me sage advice and challenged me to guard my heart, but never did she say “get over it, Heather – you’re twelve.” Somehow, no matter how silly the topic must have seemed to her, she listened and treated me as if I was just as important as any adult that had a problem. Her house was so peaceful. After babbling my head off, I’d often fall asleep on her couch.
One day, when I was a teenager, I vividly remember her sitting on her love seat when her husband, Mr. Dave, pulled up in his van. I will never forget how giddy she looked. She was so excited to hear the sound of his vehicle because she was so excited that he was home. I don’t remember exactly what happened after that, but most likely she met him at the door and asked him if he wanted anything. I’d never seen a woman more excited to serve her husband. In years following, I would often go back to that moment in my memory and think, “If marriage can be that awesome for them, I know it can be that awesome for me.” Then I started thinking, “If marriage could be that awesome for them, it can be that awesome for everyone who is willing to put aside their desire to always be right, for everyone who is willing to put their spouse’s needs above his or her own, and for everyone who commits their marriage to Christ.” And thus my love for relationships and healthy marriages was born.
Miss Betty didn’t lecture me very often. She didn’t shoot down my ideas and dreams because they seemed too difficult. She took the time to listen to me. That made her a hero in my book, and it made me want to be like her. As children, we have experiences with memories that shape us. I’m sure there were many days that she just wanted to crawl into the house and rest, but somehow she pushed herself a little further, and in doing so, she changed my life forever. Spend some time with someone younger than you, mentoring them on how to live life well.
Whose life will you change forever?