This is a repost from a guest post I wrote for my friend Jenni. She writes on all things leadership and I consider her a great mentor. I revisited this post and felt it still ring so true, so I thought I’d share it with you again:
The Gift of Belief
1985 will be forever remembered as the year of the Cabbage Patch. All I wanted for Christmas was a Cabbage Patch Doll, complete with birth certificate and diapers. As the story goes, the dolls sold out before my mom could buy one. She commissioned our “crafty” neighbor to make a replacement. Imagine my dismay when I saw a lumpy doll under the tree with painted-on eyes (one of which drifted to the right). For my eight-year-old heart, this was pure Christmas misery.
Looking back, I know none of my favorite gifts have arrived under the tree. And the most unique gift didn’t have wrapping at all.
It was the gift of belief.
Fast-forward a couple of decades. I’m attending a woman’s conference that was very different from anything I had ever experienced. It was a place where brilliant, passionate, energetic women working in ministry all over the world came together to think deeply about ministry, and I felt like I had finally found my female counterparts.
In the midst of all that goodness, in the middle of an amazing keynote speaker, I began to cry. I cried about trying to find my way in the church. I cried about being a mother and being in ministry and feeling torn. I cried so hard that I had to leave the room, and I kept crying as I wandered around the lobby to try and figure out why I was overcome with emotion.
A woman I had just met was strolling by. This was a pioneering woman, a woman who had spent decades in the church. We had met at breakfast and I had melted into her wise counsel and encouragement, bombarding her with questions on leadership and strategy and spiritual growth. So when she saw me blubbering in the lobby, she planted herself in front of me and gripped both my shoulders with her weathered hands.
I wish I could remember exactly what she said, but I guess that wasn’t important. What I heard and felt was support and encouragement and a powerful sense of belief.
It was a strange juxtaposition of belief: both belief in Christ who is an over-comer and liberator and boundary-breaker, and belief in me, as a person. As a young woman. As a mom. As a leader. In the short minutes that passed between us, as she spoke words of belief over me, I received a gift with lasting value. This gift of belief continues to be a light in my heart during moments of confusion.
Susan may not even remember that moment, but for me, it was spiritual. Since my Cabbage Patch debacle, I hope I’ve grown up a bit. And I hope this Christmas I’ll recognize how desperate we all are for belief. When I speak words of truth and encouragement over other young women, I can only hope that they will experience that same bolstering of belief, both in Christ’s overcoming power and in the power of words-from one woman to another.
Who can you give the gift of belief to this Christmas?