Though I am no where close to my teenage years, amazingly I can still remember the angst and confussion of that age. I also remember that having an extended conversation with an adult was next to impossible for a teenager. However I know that it is possible because I had many meaningful discussions with Betty Boyd. She died about two weeks ago and my wife Cynthia and I both mourn her passing. She was very important in both our lives. Betty Boyd actually lived two houses down from Cynthia while are were in school. She had three children of her own who were all close to our ages. I’m know Betty didn’t have the same relationship with us that she had with her own children. She was forced to be the parent, diciplinarian and mother to them. But to us, Betty could just be a listening post or an honest commentator of the way we lived our lives.
Cynthia and I neither had real stable family lives as we trudged through teen years. I was from a divorced family where both parents grabbed me by the arm to pull me to their side. My parents were much more concerned with their lives than they could possibly be with mine. But if that was the case for me, then Cynthia’s parents were 10 times more concerned with themselves than they were with Cynthia. And then there was Betty. She was that neighbor who always had time. She lived a quiet, unassuming, diciplined life. She was satisfied with her life and wasn’t like most adults of that time, selling out for whatever was new or hip. You’d think teenagers would be drawn to adults trying to look like and be teenagers, but we weren’t. My wife and I spent hours in Betty’s modest home just talking and receiving direct and sometimes bitting advice from Betty. Looking back on that time now, I found so much grounding from this unassuming woman.
Here’s what I learned at Betty Boyd’s house.
Being comfortable in your own skin is more important than what people think of you.
Listening doesn’t require formulating a response. Sometimes you just need to listen to someone.
Joy is not found in stuff or the pursuit of stuff, but it is found in genuine relationships.
Teenagers need stability more than they need promises.
Being willing to show up is a gift all unto itself.
Saying no does not mean I don’t love you.
Telling someone their actions are wrong usually is motivated by love.
You never know where God’s grace is going to come from, even from your friend’s mother.
I didn’t get to go the Betty Boyd’s funeral, so I am taking this time to say to anyone who will listen, she was a great person and most of the world wouldn’t have noticed. They wouldn’t have noticed because they would be too busy searching for quick and easy solutions to life. Well, I can testify that often in life you find blessing in the simplest of things.
I will miss you Miss Betty, but I better for having known you!