I met KT during a conference the first year I began working for the local church. I met her because we were stuck in a van together, our van was definitely the best, in May of 2013.
When we got home, I asked her if she would mentor me and she graciously said yes not knowing who I was or all that she would have to go through with me. I fully believe that the day in that van where we laughed and cried (in fear of our lives for driving with Guy through Atlanta traffic) was God interceding on my behalf and handing me one of the greatest gifts I could ever ask for.
I began meeting with KT. Sometimes more regularly than others depending on our seasons of life, if she was away visiting her precious grand babies, if I was away for the summer in Panama City Beach or if we were both just doing a lot. But regardless of where we were or what life looked like KT was always there.
In the summer of 2014 I went away for a summer internship, came back, and was completely re-broken by the living situation with my family (another story for another time). I realized I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t try to fix what was broken, I couldn’t try to be everything to everybody. And I remember it like it was yesterday. I met with KT at a Starbucks off of Garden of the Gods and she told me that I needed to move out.
She had been saying this and asking me to consider it for quite some time but this time she really meant it.
A month later I was in my first town house and about to enter the most challenging year of my life this far. That summer I had lost a bit of weight. I was doing a lot of physical activity and not eating a lot, a combination of adrenaline and lack of time, but when I came home I began to gain weight. Amongst other things like our church searching for a new lead pastor, battling depression and anxiety, and I was beyond stressed in 18-21 credit hours a semester trying to graduate on time. I had a lot going on.
I went on a Whole30, I was working out 5 days a week, but I couldn’t lose any weight. I literally hated myself (which lead to more stress and exhaustion) and was reminded of the body image issues that I knew too well from when I was in high school. KT did Whole30 with me, listened to me cry after doctors appointments where they told me all my blood work was fine (obviously something wasn’t fine), and then she told me that I really needed to go see this doctor who was highly recommended to her and did extensive blood work/intake to analyze what steps needed to be taken to heal and help our bodies.
KT and her amazing husband made it possible for me to go to that doctor, along with my super supportive Dad, and I was diagnosed with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome), IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and Insulin Resistance. Chemically, my body was holding onto weight because I couldn’t process or digest food well and paired with the stress I was under I couldn’t lose weight. I will always be thankful for this season because I learned what I needed to do to take care of my body and that striving to the point of stress will only lead to defeat.
The next summer I had the privilege of going back to the same summer camp as 2014 as summer staff. I loved my second summer, saw God work in crazy ways, I was so thankful for what He was doing at my church back home and that I would continue to have to honor of working for them. One night I went into my room in the condo and I pulled out a book of letters and pictures people put together for me. I cried and I called KT. I told her how burnt out I was, how tired I was, and how much I missed home. She sympathized with me, encouraged me, and told me that she couldn’t wait for me to get home so that she could hug me but also reminded me that I had an important job to do. One that God had trusted me with and I had to finish it. Her words made it possible for me to enjoy the rest of my time and not wish it away.
August of this year I had three panic attacks in one day. I called KT, do you see the pattern? She calmed me down, reminded me of truth (which she always does so well) but then she called me out. She said,
“Celeste this is a pattern.”
And immediately I knew what she was going to say.
“I think it would be helpful for you to start counseling to work through some of your anxiety.”
The next day I called and made an appointment with a counselor for that week. It was probably one of the best decisions that I have ever made.
I know that I am listing a lot of really big scenarios that KT has made it through with me that seem kind of dark and dreary, but like Jennie Allen says,
“He is real and the stories He writes are good. Yes, they have dark chapters, but all good stories need dark chapters so the light can shine through.”
KT has been with me through every dark chapter of my adult life, and she has been there with abundant grace and love. Grace and love that is exhausting to some and that I surely don’t always deserve. She has never walked away from me, always encouraged me, and always held the door open for me to walk through. She’s been the one I always call when I am hurt or don’t know what to do, she has driven me to the airport, had me over for Christmas dinner, brought me soup when I was sick, met me for last minute coffees…
She has never tried to fix everything for me. She has been there to listen, to encourage and lead me where she can, but she always points me in the direction she believes is best for me (to doctors, to counseling…) because she knows that there are some areas she can’t fix.
She doesn’t condemn me for being mad at God or frustrated with myself but gently reminds me of truth, and greatly challenges me, that God is still good even when I’m not. God is still in control even when I am not. And God is always working for my good even when I don’t believe it.
However, with dark chapters there are also good ones full of light and life. We have laughed together, relaxed together, gone through books together, celebrated together (she helped me decorate my graduation cap), prayed together and seen God answer prayers, and just simply shared life over meals. She has reminded me that sometimes 80% is good enough, that loving God and loving people are the most important things, to turn my worries into prayers (even though I am terrible at this and working on it all the time), that Jesus has a great plan for my life and I have seen His goodness and sovereignty, and she always encourages me at whatever I am pursuing that I am doing the best I can and the best I can is doing it well.
KT, I owe you way more than I could ever repay you for. Thank you for loving me like I am one of your own kids and exampling to me a strong and secure faith amongst our humanity. You’ve done more for me than I could ever express or put into words. Thank you for putting up with me for nearly four years.
Friends (guys and girls)- I pray for you that you find yourself someone who loves you this well and propels you closer to Jesus and allows you to be frustrated and scared and doubtful but doesn’t leave you there, they wouldn’t dare. I pray that if you have a KT in your life that you would appreciate them and tell them how much they mean to you, they can’t hear it enough.