By Stacey Philpot
“I’m pregnant. I wasn’t sure how to tell you,” said my curly-headed, sometimes-spacey fifteen-year-old friend. I was seventeen.
I had last seen her a year earlier. We’d sat up late into the night, and she’d spilled out all the seedy details of her life, expecting me to be shocked and ashamed. Instead I nodded my head, waiting for her to get to the part God couldn’t redeem. Since she never got there, she gave her life to Christ. I assumed she’d fall head over heels in love with Jesus and together they’d figure it all out.
Now I shifted in my red plastic Dairy Queen chair. “But you were doing so well the last time I was here. We prayed. I know you meant it. We talked. You were reading your Bible again. You weren’t going to do those things anymore. I guess I just don’t understand,” I said with a sigh.
“I was doing better,” she said, “but then you left and no one understood or cared. No one listened. I was just the girl who did bad things. I guess I proved everyone right. Anyway, sometimes when I read the Bible, I didn’t understand it, and there was no one to ask for help.”
I wanted to tell her she could have called and asked me. I wished there had been someone else she’d felt safe talking to. However, it seemed none of that mattered now, because she was going to be a mom. Somewhere out there, a fourteen-year-old boy was going to be a father. I had dropped the ball, failing to realize she needed a guide, a mentor to talk her through the hard days and unanswerable questions that would surely come.
The necessity of discipleship slapped me across the face.
Twenty years later, I’m not sure what became of my precious curly-headed friend, but I do see her reflection in the eyes of the women I speak with week after week.
They’re the women no one else wants to walk alongside. During the years I served as a women’s ministry director, there were countless times when I closed the door and said, “Nothing you’re going to say in this room will break my love for you or God’s love for you.”
Most didn’t believe me at first. They’d try out a few test revelations to see if I reacted with shock and horror. When I didn’t, sometimes they’d reveal the real stuff. Perhaps they’d share why they were convinced Jesus could never love or use them. But since they never got to the parts God couldn’t redeem, they often surrendered their lives to Christ.
My curly-headed friend taught me not to leave these precious ladies there. She taught me the critical need for those mid-week check-in calls: “How are you doing? What Scriptures are you reading? Do you have questions? What can we pray about?”
One day, sitting in my mentor’s office as we discussed a personal failure, she said, “Listen, you can fall down during this process, but you don’t have to.” Those words stuck with me. We are all disciples, and we are all discipling. In these processes, we can fall down, but we don’t have to. Should we fall down, we can always get back up and allow that fall to make us better at both being a disciple and discipling.
Sisters, we need each other. Whether our relationship status with Jesus is like floating hearts or complicated, we weren’t meant to walk this life alone.
Who can you guide through the hard days and unanswerable questions? With whom can you lock arms and endeavor to be closer still to the heart of God? The work of the discipling disciple is never done.
Stacey Philpot is wife to Ryan and mother to Hayden, Julie, and Avery. She is a writer, goofball, and avid reader. Stacey has ministered for over 15 years to youth and women in her community in order to equip them to go deeper in Christ. She blogs at aliferepaired.com and chronicallywhole.com.
Photograph © Alice Achterhoff, used with permission