***I originally wrote this for (in)courage magazine. It wasn’t selected for publication. (By the way, they sent the sweetest rejection letter I have ever seen.) But I wanted to publish it here for all of you. Enjoy.***
A Robyn In Our Family Tree
More than a decade ago, I made a friend in college. I was a special education major. She was something entirely different. We didn’t have anything in common, other than Jesus. She was a feisty, introverted redhead. I always appreciated how her face never lied. She spoke the truth in love, but never sugar-coated it. We spent some time in a Christian college group at her church before going our separate ways.
Life happened. We lived in neighboring cities, but we never really saw one another after I graduated. I married and focused on my career as a teacher. She started a business making greeting cards.
Several years later, thanks to social media, we were able to reconnect. I told my husband I wanted to go see her. I had felt guilty for neglecting her all those years. When I walked into her apartment, the guilt was replaced with relief. But we still had gaps to fill in. Time had passed and we had missed out on sharing it with one another.
She showed me some artwork about her deceased mom. Offered me tea. I gave her a makeover. Helped do her dishes. We chatted about life and church and growing herbs.
Over several years, our friendship morphed into a cousinhood. “Mama, is Miss Wobyn welated to us?” My kids have grown up with my college friend visiting at any time. We have an open door policy with her. “Graham, she’s not actually related to us, but she is a great friend!” She brings goodies and gifts and funny stories. She listens to my preschooler go on and on about his current interests. Our youngest daughter claps when Miss Robyn enters the house and wants to spend every second in her lap. Our middle daughter, who has several disabilities, will always make eye contact at least once with our friend.
She has seen our house at its messiest. Laundry piled so high it falls out of the loveseat. When dishes and bottles and half-eaten snacks fill our kitchen counter, she doesn’t even glance in that direction. She sits on the floor surrounded by a small toy store. Fitting in as the girl cousin I never had.
Years ago, after we had reconnected, I had nonchalantly said, “Swing by anytime!” And she arrived on my doorstep. Panic mode set in. My house was a mess. I looked around and decided I just wouldn’t answer the door. She would leave. I could schedule something and get everything presentable. Then the words of a friend echoed in my heart, “Hospitality trumps pride.”
I opened the door and decided to invite her into our chaos. Her face never lies, so I could tell she was shocked. Her super organized college friend had a tsunami in her living room. She thanked me for letting her in. I wondered if she secretly wanted to run!
Years later, Graham spoke what I had suspected all this time. “Mama, ares you sure Miss Wobyn isn’t our weal family? Cuz I fink she should be. It’s like she’s not mine weal aunt but still like family. Like ours cousin!” Cousin Robyn. God placed her in our family tree. And then placed her again when two women let life get in the way of what He was doing. Praise the Lord for second chances in friendship. And hospitality trumping pride.