When I grow up…

I was 11 when I first met her.

Never before had I met anyone so misshapen. Nima had severe arthritis. Every joint in her body was swollen and knobby, her hands were gnarled and twisted, she walked with a slow uneven gait. In my 11-year old eyes it seemed she must be very old, although in reality she was probably only in her mid 40s. I didn’t know it then, but years later I would look back and say –

“When I grow up I want to be like Nima.”

For, you see, Nima was an amazing woman. Every morning she would get up and walk the mile between her home and the church and then back. On Sunday mornings people would often offer her a ride home, but she always refused, explaining that the day she quit walking was the day she would end up an invalid.

You never heard Nima complain. In fact her attitude was always one of thankfulness. Thankful for every new day that the Lord gave her. Thankful for God’s provision after her husband died leaving her with two teenage sons to raise. Thankful for her salvation. She was an inspiration to everyone who knew her.

As I went through my troubled teen years, Nima sometimes tried to talk to me about the direction I was heading. She was concerned about my negativity and bitterness and how that was impacting my life and my choices. I pretty much ignored what she had to say at the time, but eventually those words would come back to me and make a difference.

I grew up and moved away, but Nima occasionally asked my mom to tell me hello for her. Finally, on one trip home, I took time to go and see her. It was a visit that will always be precious to me. Nima was bedridden by this time, but that did not take away the glow on her face as she told me how thankful she was for God’s grace each day. She said that she made it a practice each morning to thank Him for another day of life.

What Nima didn’t tell me, but I found out from others, is that she had a steady stream of visitors… People who came not only to keep her company, but to be blessed by the joy that she shared.

Sometime after that, Nima passed away. But I still look back at the example she set and say,

“When I grow up I want to be like Nima.”

I want to have peace, knowing that God is in control.

I want to have the perseverance to keep on going when life is rough.

I want to be caring enough to reach out to someone who is hurting and encourage her.

I want to greet each new day with a heart that is thankful.

Who do you want to be like when you grow up?

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Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7