Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – Psalm 90:12 NIV
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. – James 1:5 NIV
Henrietta Benson was the wisest person I’ve ever known.
When I met her, I was a young mother with three children, the third a surprise - a big surprise. I was quite upset about it. I was, truth be told, mad at God.
Back then I was still under the illusion that life should go according to what I’d planned, what I’d worked for, what I’d prayed for. But God had things to teach me, and I was at times a reluctant, if not rebellious, learner. Impatience was one of my defining traits—and perfectionism. I was always worried about what others would think or say about me or my family. If my kids did something wrong, somehow it was my fault.
Enter Henrietta Benson: mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother; former teacher in a one-room schoolhouse; farm wife; godly woman. Once Henrietta and her family began attending our little church on Canoe Ridge, I was never the same.
Henrietta’s philosophy was that once she met you, you were family. Not only were there church functions, such as carry-in dinners for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, and other holidays, there were also picnics and campouts on the hill, part of the farmland she and her husband owned.
So there were plenty of opportunities for me to pour my heart out to her. She’d listen patiently, keeping her eyes and attention on me, never interrupting, with not even a sliver of judgment on her face or in her eyes. There are few folks you can really talk to—to whom you can reveal the pain, the worry, the mistakes, your true feelings, the “stuff” that makes up the real you—the things you hide from the world because you don’t want anyone to think less of you.
Henrietta never preached. She’d wait until I finished my tirade then, like soothing balm on a seeping wound, dispensed her words of wisdom. They were few, but they were effective.
I can’t remember specifically the words she said—after all, my youngest will turn 30 in another month. But I can remember how she made me feel—understood, loved and accepted as I was, that I wasn’t hopeless, that God was using these things to change me and make me into the person He planned for me to be.
She taught me more about God and what He is like than any Bible study or sermon ever did.
Looking back on it all now, I realize that oftentimes it wasn’t I who sought her—it was she who drew me out with a “You look stressed today, Michele.”
Henrietta has long left this world for her heavenly home, but her godly influence and wisdom live on. You see, now it’s my turn to be a listening ear, give a timely word of wisdom, dispense love unconditionally.
It’s my time to pass it forward.
Thank you, Father, for Henrietta and her godly wisdom. Grant me the grace, love, and wisdom to be to others what she was to me. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Proverbs 2