Late on Christmas night in 2006 I was in my house alone. It was a painful first, which comes with the fracturing of families. My mobile phone rang. Someone who didn’t know me all that well, but who had stood by me in difficult times, was on the line.
Calling from interstate, he wanted to say hello and see how I was travelling. The call was short, but it’s a phone call I have never forgotten. I wept. I wasn’t alone. Good people were still in my corner. People of grace and peace were by my side.
Never underestimate the power of one phone call.
Over the next decade we had occasional contact. Some calls, emails and social media contact. Always encouraging. Always affirming. Always honest.
And then another phone call. This time from me. “We’re moving to Melbourne.”
He was one of the first people I saw in my new hometown.
He knew some good places for coffee in the city. I remember at our first AFL game he left his good seat at Marvel Stadium to find the kids and me in the cheap seats. He proudly had his Bulldogs scarf on. He was genuinely interested in my kids.
He’s always been on the end of the phone to ponder a tough question, an email away for helpful feedback. He’s advised, he’s suggested, he’s reflected, always humbly and quietly, never arrogantly. He’s listened and listened more. He’s recommended good reads, provided good resources, helped me consider challenging situations with objectivity and wisdom.
We’ve laughed, we’ve cried. I know when I say something that’s “BS” he will call it as it is!
He’s authentically bared his own scars. He doesn’t need to have an answer. He’s backed me when others haven’t. He’s given hours of his time to support my ministry and the teams I work with.
In this stretching season I find myself in now, he’s been a constant.
In past years, when deep down I knew I needed someone like him in my world, I sadly didn’t choose vulnerability. But thank God I have learnt from my mistakes.
I recently thanked him for all the time he has invested in me.
“Every minute has been worth it,” he replied. I cried again. Tears of thankfulness.
Thank God for a mentor like this. Thank God for a friend like this. Thank God for someone who so genuinely models Jesus to me.
He won’t like being the focus of this post because he’s genuinely humble. But I want to celebrate him today. Thanks Alan Marr.