“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20 (NASB)
Hers was often the first face I saw every morning on my way to class, and when I overslept; hers was the first voice I’d hear in the morning over the intercom telling somebody they had a phone call waiting on the hallway phone.
Long before automated telephone systems and cell phones, Mrs. Meise was the communication hub of our college dorm building. Her official “title” was switchboard operator, but that was just a cover. God’s real agenda for Mrs. Meise was to offer God’s wisdom and direction to the 350 girls who occupied Alpha Chi each year. Today we’d call her a mentor. Back then; she just made herself a friend. During the many years she served there, her one life impacted hundreds of young women who passed through the building. Fortunately, that included me as well.
“He is your peace!” she called after me one day as I anxiously blew by her on my way out the door to Philosophy class. Philosophy and I were never very friendly so I was always cranky when I had to go, and she realized that.
Mrs. Meise’s encouragement was a passing reference to Colossians 3:15 which says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” I knew the verse; she had just shared it with me the day before during one of our long afternoon talks. I used to love it when she’d say, “Pull up a chair,” which, when translated really meant, “Come around the counter and sit for awhile; I can’t wait to tell you what new thing I learned about Jesus this morning.” Bubbling joy and deep wisdom came through her every word and she captivated me.
With a pair of scissors in one hand and a homemade card for each coed emerging from the other, she was quick with a smile and even quicker to listen to our needs. Despite being thirty years our senior, Mrs. Meise took seriously our fears, sacrifices, triumphs, disappointments, spiritual crises, boyfriend traumas, term papers, wardrobe disasters, and classroom frustrations. She celebrated with us, rejoiced with us, and wept with us. Beyond all that, she listened to our hearts and absorbed every bit of it. Every. Single. Bit.
Mrs. Meise did so much more than dispatch telephone calls.
Around the time the college transitioned to a university, they put in a new telephone system and instantly rendered her position obsolete. Her years of personal investment at the school were over. I always felt sorry for the girls who came after us who didn’t have the benefit of Mrs. Meise’s wisdom. They truly don’t know what they missed. Her influence in my life was far greater than any of the professors I ever sat under, and the sweet aroma of her walk with Christ still lingers in my heart even now, 35 years later.
When I was afraid, she’d crack open her well-worn Bible under the counter and have me read Isaiah 41:10; “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
When I was lonely she’d pray John 14:16 & 18 over me; “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever…I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
When I was trying to decide on a verse to put on my wedding invitation, she prayed about it, scratched back and forth on a piece of paper, and handed me Jeremiah 33:11a; “The voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.” She even helped me set a date for my wedding that would allow most of my college buddies to attend.
She was Jesus to me.
If she heard me say that now, she’d be so uncomfortable with the comparison, but she was Jesus to me. She was Jesus to everyone. It was the very first thing anyone learned about Mrs. Meise; she loved Jesus and desperately wanted to be like him. Despite the fact that she ministered to women of all different breeds and brands of denominational differences, she sidestepped all of those mine fields and focused only on what united us. She pointed us all to Jesus; the love of her life.
For years we stayed in touch after I graduated swapping Christmas cards and God stories back and forth. In the many years I knew her, her faith never faltered, her smile never dimmed, and her godly wisdom proved itself accurate across the decades of my life.
“God, I miss her. I desperately wish I could pull up a chair by her this afternoon and talk with her. How I long to hear her talk about You…”
I don’t know if you have a “Mrs. Meise” in your life; someone who invested in you, listened to you, counseled you, and pointed you to Jesus, but if you do, stop and thank God for them. Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”
Was there someone who led you that impacted your life that you’d like to talk about? If you want to give tribute to one of your mentors here, I’d love to hear about them.
Sometimes I just need a walk with the wise…
© Copyright, 2012 by Donna Tallman.