The women who have changed my life — and how you can change someone else’s life too.
I’m gonna set the stage for you: Imagine 8th grade Julia.
(Oh gosh, had to go deep in the Facebook archives for this photo… you are welcome.)
So this 8th grader is at a church retreat and she “falls in love” with one of the church staff. (No, this is not real love, but to an 8th grader this is a HUGE DEAL.) She finds out that this leader has a very serious girlfriend…and SHE IS CRUSHED.
Another leader on the trip — a sophmore in high school — comes and listens to her, sits with her as she cries, and then makes her laugh when she thinks she will never laugh again.
That started much more than a friendship; it also sparked a love for getting to know women who are a few steps ahead of me in life.
Role Models and Mentors are some of the greatest gifts that God has placed on the earth — although, granted a very different type of gift than donuts or coffee.
I have been blessed to have several women of all different ages invest in me through each season of life since that 8th grade trip. Sometimes that was a sophmore in high school reaching out to love 8th grade me, or a junior in college loving little freshman-in-college Julia.
There have been several women who have invested in my life, loved me without personal gain, and have spoken truth into my life when I either didn’t want to hear it or didn’t know what I needed to hear. Each person that has invested in my life has been a big part of a different season that I have gone through.
There have been four main people who have truly changed my life, and I want to tell you about them today.
#1: That 8th-grade story I told you about earlier? Well, that sweet lady is Kenzie.
Kenzie was a sophomore when I first met her. She continued to invest in my life all throughout the rest of her high school — and even to this day. She has encouraged me to love Jesus authentically and to invest in things that will advance His Kingdom.
Kenzie is one of the most genuine, organized, generous, and loving people I have ever met. When we were playing volleyball together, she encouraged me to give my all — even when it was easier to give half of my self; to push through the laziness and continue to give 110%. That lesson has really been something that I have held onto and continue to implement into my day-to-day life.
#2: Do you have that one friend who is 100% silly and 100% serious? I know those numbers don’t add up but you know the person I am talking about! This person in my life is Abigail Violet.
It’s first day of freshman year. I walk into my dorm and start to unpack my stuff when Abi sticks her head in my room and introduces herself as my RA (Resident Assistant). In that moment, I knew I was in the right place at the right time.
Abi has walked with me through some of the hardest things I have ever faced. We share a lot of the same passions, a lot of the same struggles, and a lot of laughs. She has literally held my hand, sat up late at night with me, and loved me when I thought I was unworthy. Abi has taught me the most valuable lessons, speaks such wisdom into situations when I can’t see the light, and she has encouraged me to speak up for myself. Not only was Abi my freshman RA, but she has genuinely become one of my “lifelong people.”
If you ever meet Abi, you will 10000% walk away feeling loved and knowing you are valuable just because you are you.
(When deciding on Abi’s picture for this I had the hardest time because there are so many pictures that perfectly describe her personality, so here is her signature “baby hands.”)
#3: Do you have that one friend who after any conversation (whether it is just in passing or over a long cup of dirty chai), always makes you feel rejuvenated and loved? Well that woman for me is Sabrina Jean.
Sabrina was Abi’s “RA wife” (aka, RA roommate) last year on my hall. Sabrina started to really invest in me when I didn’t know I needed someone like her.
Sabrina genuinely is the sweetest soul I have ever met. She is so filled with the love of the Lord that it is overflowing out of her in everything she does. Sabrina has gone on countless coffee, acai, and cookie runs with me and she is the best listener and filled with wisdom.
Sabrina has this amazing ability to make you feel safe and comfortable right off the bat, and she is one of the most gracious and gentle people I have ever met.
Sabrina has taught me how to love unconditionally, how to be an unconditional listener, and how to invest in those who seem unreachable. Sabrina is 1 in a million.
#4: Katie … Where to start with Katie.
Katie and I just celebrated our one-year discipleship anniversary, and I have loved every minute of it.
Katie and I had been separately praying for a discipleship relationship to come into our lives. Then, one day Katie texted me, and every since then she has been one of the biggest blessings in my life.
Katie is the most joyful and bubbly person I have met — 100%. If you were to summarize a couple of Katie’s loves, they would be Flamingos, Pink, Exercise (specifically yoga), and those around her. You will not leave an interaction with Katie doubting that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and are the most loved person on this planet.
Katie has inspired me to love fiercely and unapologetically in every situation. Katie has invested in me when I needed it the most, and this is one of the relationships that I value the most.
When I describe Katie to those who don’t know her, I say she is one of the most joyful individuals I know and is always down for a fun time. She has continued to encourage me to live my life as pleasing to the Lord, and using all of my God-given gifts to continue to further His Kingdom.
(Believe it or not I actually am in this picture! You just have to look very closely…)
I have had many other women who are farther along in life that have invested in me, but I chose to share about these women today — women who are just a couple of years older than me — and I did this for a reason.
These women are not much older than I am, and yet they have changed my life. This shows that you are capable of making a difference regardless of your age.
Just because you are 16 doesn’t mean you can’t invest in a 13 year old, or if you are 20 doesn’t mean you can’t love on 16 year olds.
Regardless of your age, there are always younger girls looking for someone to come alongside to love, listen, and encourage them in their individual walks.
Having people invest in you — and being the one investing — are two of the greatest gifts the Lord gives us. It has “been a thing” since Bible Times.
Look at Paul and Timothy. Paul was a little bit older than Timothy, and he seems to have taken him under his wing.
So look around both for women to invest in your life, as well as for women you can invest in.
Continue to pray for the Lord to bring either a “Timothy” into your life or for Him to bring a “Paul” into your life.
Julia is an ordinary girl loving and serving an extraordinary God. A sophomore psychology student in sunny southern California, she tries to balance her desire to study with her desire to go to the beach. She is a lover of doughnuts, all things peanut butter, sunsets, and great conversations over beautiful cups of coffee.