AS T PAID DOWN THE DEBTS SHE'D INCURRED with her erstwhile live-in boyfriend and chose platonic roommates who could share living expenses and keep her costs down, her self-respect grew. Mine for her did too. She would call me every month or so, wherever I was, to check in and tell me of her progress or lack thereof. She enjoyed having someone, along with her and my beloved Helen who was genuinely interested in her. I sincerely enjoy the unexpected opportunity to encourage this young woman who wanted---and still does-- so desperately to forge another, better life path for herself.
As I witnessed T's dedication to hard work and school and got to know her better over our occasional lunch meetings along the Interstate, I decided to offer her a little challenge: I would pay her a sum of $250 for every A she earned, $150 for every B and nothing, zilch, for anything lower. She jumped at my offer.
I'd like to say her path in college was a straight line, but it hasn't been. She transferred schools and ever majors as she struggled to find a major that intersected with her talents and interests. Some semesters I got off with giving her a bonus of only $350. There were one or two D's and F's. But she never let herself be dismayed for long as she picked herself up and were forward. The faith conveyed to her through Helen and me too, has been an additional help in times of discouragement. And while she has dated some and has a boyfriend she says she loves, because he's moved to Louisiana with his family, she understands the benefits of delaying gratification more than ever. And she admits her energy has been freed up to accomplish the tasks at hand.
Earlier this week I received a breathless call from T. She was brimming over with enthusiasm. I have so much to tell you! she began. I got my grades from last semester and made four, FOUR A's! And I'm doing this practicum at an adoption agency here in Murfreesboro that I absolutely love, love, love. They really like me too. I never knew how interesting working with children who need good parents could be! And just think! I only have one more semester after this one before I graduate! I feel so blessed!
WOW! That's wonderful, I said. FOUR A's. What are you trying to do, break me?! That's a lotta money I owe you....I may have to go for a loan to pay you off!
T's story is far from over. Yet what I've seen of her over the past three+ years leads me to strongly believe she has turned a corner in her life and life's path, by the Grace of God.
And this Saturday morning, weather and God permitting, T and I will have a sawmill breakfast at Cracker Barrel off I-24 near Murfreesboro and a face-to-face catch-up where I will present her with her bonus for her hard word and dedication. It's going to be fun to see where this young woman goes from here. May God bless her, our beloved Helen and the rest of her family.