It was my second summer working on staff at Red Rock Bible camp, and it was off to a rough start. I’d had my first summer romance the year before, it had ended badly at Christmas, and now I had to spend the summer dealing with the awkwardness of working together at camp with my ex-boyfriend.
I remember being in the staff bathroom, washing my hands, when another girl came in. It was Kate, a girl I had never spoken to before, but had heard a lot about. Everyone kept talking about her, including one of my close friends, who kept saying how much she wanted to counsel together with Kate that summer, because she was sooooo amazing. I’d been watching the amazing Kate from a distance, and even though she was a few years younger than me, I felt intimidated by her. She was always surrounded by a crowd of people, usually guys, and she had this confident energy I envied. I was pretty sure I didn’t want to counsel together with her, because I was crawling into my shy self around her, ready to disguise it as snobbery.
When she came into the bathroom that day, I prepared to quietly slip out the door after mumbling a quick “hi”, but that was because I had no idea who I was dealing with….
She came right up to me and said, “I’ve been thinking about you, and wondering if it’s really hard to be on staff this summer with your ex-boyfriend. What’s that like for you?” She asked it with such kindness, compassion, and sincerity that it completely threw me off-guard.
And then, maybe because I was so caught off guard, or maybe because my natural tendency is to be really open in a one-on-one situation, or maybe because God knew I needed Kate, I ended up spilling everything out to her, and she listened like no one had ever listened before. She shared her own related experiences, made me laugh, helped to heal some wounds with all the right words.
When we came out of that bathroom 45 minutes later, Kate had my heart forever.
She’s moved far away, but every time she’s home for a visit, she faithfully messages me to arrange a coffee date, and she brings her laughter, joy, warmth, energy, and vulnerability into my life every time. She has this incredible ability to put anyone at ease, and she loves on people so hard, she’s able to convince each one that somehow, you’re making her world better just by being you, and then when she leaves, you realize she’s really the one making everything better.
And she’s still asking, “What’s that like for you?” When she came to visit this August, it came up that I’d been dealing with postpartum anxiety, and with her same old kindness and compassion, she asked, “Oh, sweetie, what’s that been like for you?”
It’s the best question, really. There’s no judgement in it. It recognizes the fact that each of us is experiencing our own stuff, carrying our own burdens, and who can judge what that’s like, or know how it feels to walk in our shoes? Kate asks that question, and walks alongside, making the burdens seem so much more bearable.
I don’t see her nearly often enough, but whenever I do, she’s still the amazing Kate, making me laugh, always loving and caring as hard as she can.
And so it broke my heart when I was scrolling through Facebook a few weeks ago and came across this:
“Well my loves, this is not how I wanted to tell you. I need your prayers for tomorrow’s surgery. I’ve got stage four colon cancer and it’s going to be a long haul. Love you.”
I pray and cry and have hope that God will still do awesome things for and through Kate. I read tidbits about her joking around with the oncologist, and him not knowing what to make of her, or how she’s still thinking of others and loving them hard, even in the midst of all she’s going through. That sweet girl. I love her so much.
So if you think of it, pray for Kate, her husband Toban, and their little boy Zack. In the beginning, things were not looking promising, but people have been praying, God’s already doing miracles, and it’s looking much more hopeful for my dear friend. Whenever I pray for her, I keep getting the sense that God has awesome things in store for her, and the best is yet to come, no matter what happens.
Her family is doing an awesome job of keeping a blog updated – if you’d like to check it out, go here.