She was a little girl in Mexico whose mother left her and her brother in the care of their grandmother. Her mother went to the U.S. What the woman that girl grew into remembers about those years was how unloved she felt by her grandmother, who preferred the girl’s brother and also had her hands full with other children.
And the girl-woman remembers feeling afraid. Trembling afraid. Alone. Abandoned.
Eventually her mother gained green cards for the whole family and the girl learned English, excelled in high school, and attended college.
And she was still afraid. And she still felt unloved.
A man loved her and persuaded her to marry him. It took some heavy convincing because why would anyone love her? He loved her anyway. They had children and eventually grandchildren.
And she was still afraid.
I’ve been hearing her story in bits and pieces as we take some of the same exercise classes at the local gym. Her blood pressure is high and her legs tremble and she feels afraid and she struggles every day to feel worthy.
And my heart breaks. She is 68 years old and doesn’t remember what it is like to not feel afraid.
The number of times the Bible says, “Don’t be afraid” is in the hundreds. When we read the stories of people in the Bible we see ourselves easily enough—our failures, our flaws, our fears.
“Don’t be afraid. I am with you.”
I can remind my friend of this, and I do. But I can also be hands and feet and arms and heart that are with her. We can do that for one another. When we embody these words for each other, we speak God’s truth with our lives.