Goodness, goodness, where do I begin to select a woman that inspires me, there could be so many. My mother did, of course, and my courageous daughter-in-law battling illness, never giving up and many others that I love. Of course, I could also think of dozens of famous women, Jane Goodall, Malala Yousafzai or perhaps from days gone by someone like the brave Harriet Tubman. Truly, I am inspired by so many amazing women that picking just one is very difficult but I want to tell you about a woman named Evelyn that inspires me all the time and teaches me to never give up.

Eighteen years ago, I moved to a small town south of a large Metroplex where I literally knew no one. I had been going to a small church for about five years but now with the move it was a 45-minute drive so I begin visiting a church near my new home. It was there I first met Mrs. Evelyn and her husband. She and her family sat on the row behind me and became the first people I really met. So, every Sunday I would enjoy seeing Mrs. Evelyn, her husband, her mom Mrs. Bonnie, her sister and her brother-in-law, with the entire family. I now knew five people! A lovely, warm family that I enjoyed seeing each week and gave me a sense of belonging in my new town.

After a couple of years, her mother, Mrs. Bonnie passed, a loss I knew well from losing my own mother. Then, a few years passed and I heard the news that Mrs. Evelyn’s daughter was very ill and in fact would also pass soon. It was a heartbreaking loss for both her husband and herself. Her daughter was young and beautiful and should have had a long life.  It was then that I learned that just a year or so before I met her, she had lost her only son, now her only daughter. My heart broke for her, yet come Sunday, there she would be sitting faithfully with her family worshiping with strength that I simply could not fathom. Yet, with all she lost, when someone loses a loved one or is ill and the morning mail arrives, there will be a sweet card of encouragement from Mrs. Evelyn.

A few more years passed and Mrs. Evelyn’s husband became sick and was hospitalized for surgery but was expected to do well. Then, the unimaginable happened and once again she was left to grieve. Her sweet husband, the love of her life was gone. Yet, come Sunday, there she would be still sitting faithfully with her family smiling at me. I couldn’t help but wonder how? How does she keep facing each day, how does she not give up? Of course, I knew the answer, it was her faith. But I still wondered- how? 

To this day, each time I see her, I ask how she is doing and the answer is always the same, “I’m just fine. As I walk away, I say to myself, if Mrs. Evelyn can still smile and say “I’m fine” surely, I can handle whatever challenge I may be experiencing. This beautiful sweet soul has no idea what an inspiration she is to me and to all who know her. I am reminded of my blessings and I am also reminded that we can decide to be broken and give up in life or we can dig deep, and find the strength to continue. I have never in my life personally met anyone that has lost so much but doesn’t complain or give up. Strength fed by faith. She is a light that shines bright and always will.

“There is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.   –Amanda Gorman