Sarah and I went to high school together. We met in year seven because we had a mutual friend, Elwin, and then the next week we found ourselves sitting next to each other in the flute section of the junior concert band. We sat next to each other at least once a week every school after that until we finished school. Like Kate in primary school, Sarah and I were pretty close, but up until the last few weeks of school, I don’t think I ever thought to call her my best friend. How ridiculous.
I don’t really know where to begin when I think about how influential Sarah has been in the way that I have grown to love God. I think that’s because it’s not actually something you can pin down in chronolgical order. It’s more just that as long as I have known her she has just been a wonderful friend, and she has almost always done and and said (or kept silent about) the right things.
Sarah loves Jesus, and I get the impression that she was pretty sure about loving him since she was a child too. We found out we were both Christians when we met again at the lunchtime Christian group. All throughout school, and even into the future, into right now, Sarah has been probably the person who has most challenged me to keep growing as a child of God. And it’s weird, because she has done it so quietly, that I often haven’t realised she was doing it until months or years later. I had other friends at school (more about one of them soon!) who were very vocal about what they thought, and were very forthcoming with advice and suggestions for me and my life. But Sarah was never explicitly vocal about those things. She just went around, every day living out her faith in all the little things she did and kind of inadvertently providing a model for me, which I tried to follow even though I was boisterous and crazy. It always confused me during school that Sarah never stuck up her hand to take on leadership positions in the Christian group, she never gave talks or regularly ran bible studies. But looking back I realise that was doing leadership in a completely different, and probably more helpful way, by just living out her faith with integrity and being a good friend and sister in Christ.
Sarah and I also shared the experience of looking into other faiths and philosophies in the middle of high school. A group of us from our Asian Studies class had organically formed a little discussion group. Elwin, Aviea, Sarah and I would meet up every now and then to eat pancakes or hang out at the Chinese gardens and we’d dump all of our weird and wonderful philosophical musings onto each other. Sometimes we’d just share random reflections on life and death, sometimes we’d muse about the nature of God (I distinctly remember a discussion about whether or not God changes over time). We’d ask the hard hitting questions – is there any significance in the fact that Jesus and Buddha both fasted for forty days? Haha. Interesting questions, and we wouldn’t always agree (in fact I don’t think there was ever consensus on anything), but I really valued Sarah being there with me while I personally grappled with questions and ideas. She always seemed more clear headed than me, and it was really helpful to have someone there who was acurately portraying Christian beliefs.
This is turning into a bit of a grand novel, so only one more point and then I’ll stop. Sarah is amazing at rebuking me. Whenever people tell me that I’ve made mistakes or said stupid things, I get really upset and offended, even though I know they are right. BUt somehow when Sarah does it, I don’t mind. In fact, mostly she does it without saying anything – she probably doesn’t even realise she is rebuking me most of the time! It’s just that her behaviour and attitudes are such a good example for me to follow that often just the way that she lives reminds me of the things I need to change or improve. And even now and then when she does rebuke me with words, she does it so graciously and humbly and so obviously out of love that I don’t even notice it right away. I definitely do not have that gift :S
So this is how I grew up: Yiayia told me about Jesus, and Kate helped me to learn a bit more about him, and Sarah helped me to really identify as one of his followers. It’s so great the way that God has provided people to nuture me in the faith at all the right times. I thank God for all of them!