I will never forget the first time I met Donna. By the time I got to the park, she and a mutual friend were already serving lunch to their children. Conversation was in full swing and the topic was nice and light- ya know, vaccinations.
Oh brother. Nothing like a little vaccination conversation to ease your way into a relationship.
Of course I added my two cents, but mostly stayed out of the debate because Donna was nothing if not passionate about her beliefs. As I started to get out my family’s lunch, a park ranger came over to inform us that we were sitting in an area reserved for their day camp.
Whoops, I thought. I guess we will move.
But no, no, no, Donna was not having this. She quickly pointed out that there was no sign posted stating this area was for camp children only. We were already eating, she continued. Those camp kids would have to eat somewhere else, she passionately explained. Donna had no plans to move, and that was it. I, on the other hand, had already packed up and was ready to find a new table. What’s the big deal? Confront much? No thank you! A little embarrassed, I sat back down and tried to process what had just happened.
That’s when she mentioned she was joining our homeschool group. Mmm-Kay. This should be interesting.
My next interaction with Donna took place in the classroom. What began as a review game somehow spiraled into another showdown, this time between Donna and the teacher.
The game wasn’t fair.
Her son actually had his hand up first,
He *does* know the answer. He just needs more time.
Whatever the case was, I just kept thinking,
Who is this woman?
Then one day I got my answer. We were at a different park, with a different mutual friend, and a different conversation emerged. As the children played, we moms began to let our hair down, breathe a little, and talk.
Donna expressed feelings of exhaustion from sleep deprivation.
“Are you having trouble sleeping?” I asked innocently.
“Yes,” she answered, “for the last 8 years,” she revealed. She then explained that she had not had a full night of sleep since her 11 year old son developed type one diabetes when he was three. Every few hours throughout the night she has to check Nick’s blood glucose level by pricking his finger, or else he could slip into a coma, never to awaken.
Sometimes all night.
She has administered 10’s of thousands of shots to her boy.
With no break from this reality.
And all of a sudden I saw Donna for who she really is. She is a fighter alright. And God made her that way. In His sovereignty, the Creator knew that this child was going to need a mom who would fight for his life every single day. And not only does she fight for his life, but for every child that has type one diabetes. She hikes up to Washington DC every year to fight for millions of dollars towards research for a cure. She conjures up crowds to walk for her son’s life at yearly fundraisers, and she has raised a fighter of a son too! Nick has taken his story, which involves countless needles, constant monitoring of his blood sugar, and a lot of highs and lows, to Washington as one of the Florida representatives to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Children’s Congress to speak with legislators about their experiences with the disease.
Donna is not only a killer homeschool mom,Type 1 diabetes advocate, and philanthropist; she is also an incredibly successful financial planner and loving wife. And she does all of this on about zero sleep. She is incredibly generous and gives incessantly, whether it be her time, her resources, or her talents.
That’s who this woman is.
You see if you are lucky enough to gain Donna as a friend, you will have the most loyal forever friend that you could ever want to have, and she will fight for you, and for your children, and for your children’s children! And I almost missed that chance! Yes, she is intense but not just for intensity’s sake. She was divinely created with a mission in mind. She fights against injustice and longs to be a voice for those that cannot speak for themselves. My friend Donna is not perfect. But that’s actually our greatest commonality. Not only does she accept me with all my weaknesses, she is strong in so many areas I am weak. And I love her for that. I feel like I hit the jackpot, and shudder at the thought of how close I came to writing her off.
Sometimes in life we see only behaviors that can annoy us rather than the reasons behind them. All too often those behaviors can push us to the extent that we say good-bye to the person behind the behavior. The miracle of friendship is being able to see past an idiosyncrasy right into the imago Dei, the image of God in that person. Of course I am not talking about abusive behavior, but rather those little quirks that people are working through and learning how to manage.
There are endless examples in the Bible of Jesus standing up and fighting for those who could not fight for themselves. He stood up for the adulterous woman who was going to be stoned and the time He fought against the moneychangers in the temple. We remember also that in the Old Testament, the Lord fought for the Israelite people time and time again.
We are given this beautiful reminder in Exodus.
The Lord will fight for you- Exodus 14:14
And ultimately Jesus fought against death, conquering the grave through His resurrection power that those who believe might have eternal life!
I am so glad that God gave me Donna to show me His image in such a powerful way. He is El-Gibhor, the Mighty God. And He will fight for you!