She was and is a lot of things to me, but I think most uniquely, she's an example I want to follow. That's huge for me. You know when you're a kid and people ask who your hero was? Yeah...I never had an answer, so I always just said Batman or Jesus or Wonder Woman or my mom because I knew that's what people wanted to hear. I still wouldn't say my grandmother is my hero, but she is simply the most amazing person I've ever met. She was one of the founding residents of her city and was somewhat of an advisor to a lot of the people in the community because of her life experiences and education (she attended some college which was uncommon for a Black woman then). I knew her as my grandmother, which was huge, but hearing so many others speak about her, I got to see how big her life really was.
We were studying James 2 tonight at small group and got the section on favoritism being forbidden. I found myself holding back tears because I immediately thought of her.
1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
One recurring theme I saw in my grandmother's life and that was confirmed in the people who came out to say goodbye to her, was that she would help anyone. When I was young, she would wonder out loud as to why God had kept her alive for so long (she'd planned and paid for her funeral 20 years prior not expecting to live past 70 since so many of her relatives died young). She would say the only reason she could think was that it was to help people...and she always, always did.
The drunks, addicts, ex-cons, murderers, foreigners, illiterate, lonely, frustrated and just generally unfortunate...I saw her help them all...and not just with money or food, but personally and equally she gave of herself.
One man got up to speak at her funeral. Through tears he talked of his struggles with substance abuse and how my grandmother was like a mother to him...and then he said something that I'll never forget. He said that she hurt. A lot.
Her son, my uncle had died about ten years prior. She was the type who just kept going regardless of the pain. She was part of the never-let-em-see-ya-cry generation. To know that one of these people she felt God sent her had become support for her through what had to have been one of the most difficult losses of her life...it struck me very personally and reminded me that even in those relationships where we think we may be the ones extending a hand to someone we could be discriminating against, we might just be the ones being supported ourselves.