Continued from Testimony, Part V.
It was a sad day in the Jones household in the late 70s. My mother returned from the hospital. She was greatly saddened. She cried all the time. Dad, who often traveled for his job, was gone and I was too young to understand how to console Momma. All I knew was she was pregnant when she went to the hospital, but she was pregnant no more.
My little sister’s name was Susan. She lived only briefly after a premature birth.
Momma never really recovered from that. And soon, due to separate circumstances, we were forced to leave our quad-level, new-construction home in Woodstock, Georgia to return to my Dad’s hometown, Central High, Oklahoma.
Susan was my only biological sister.
Twenty-seven years later I returned to Central High, leaving my pastorate in Haileyville, Oklahoma. I was devastated, having lost my beloved to another man. I made a promise to God. I would not marry again for at least seven years.
I kept that promise.
And knowing I would not marry again for so long, I learned to develop valuable friendships with women. It was actually easier for me to develop strong friendships with women than with men.
I used to wonder what it would have been like to grow up with Susan, what having a sister would have been like.
Since then I have learned to call many dear women “sister.”
One sister helped me through the time I discovered my wife’s affairs.
One sister helped me transition from a life of virtual solitude to the life of an active community member in my new home of Duncan.
One sister made my new home more comfortable with almost daily meals around a family table.
One sister reminded me of what Love is.
Two sisters who taught me to love music in new ways.
One sister carried me through a terrible time of loss.
One sister pastored me through my mother’s death.
One sister, also a pastor, brought healing to my spirit.
One sister encouraged me in my workout goals.
One has helped raise my daughter.
One sister helped me understand my older brother through terrible health problems.
One sister helped save my life.
One sister remembered my birthday every year, the only person to do so for a decade, and she still ministers to my soul every Sunday as she leads our music.
And one, long ago, led me to the Lord.
I like to think the spirit of Susan lives in all of them.
As a conservative Christian, I was raised to be cautious in relationships with the opposite gender. I have learned as I grow older that being cautious should never mean entirely isolating ourselves from each other. There is so much the women in my life have given me, and God through them.
I would not give up any of them. They bless me.
They are honorable women, Godly women for their courage and sacrifice. They embody the qualities of Mary, Elisabeth, Martha, Esther, Hannah, Deborah, Phoebe, Ruth and Sarah.
Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. – Ruth 1:16 NIV