Thursday, December 18, 2014

People of Williston: Audrey

*Brad didn't pick this one. I asked him to give me a person but he never got back to me, so I made a random selection, and Audrey was the winner!

We were at church not long after we had moved back to Williston from Culbertson, and we got there late, which meant we sat aaaaaaaall the way in the back, in the gym, because our ward was (and still is) so huge. Audrey and her then-husband Christian sat behind us with their little girl Kali. Beya had been asking all morning before arriving if we could have someone over for dinner that night (Beya loves dinner guests). We told her she could pick someone to invite, so as soon as sacrament meeting was over, she asked Audrey and Christian, despite the fact that we didn’t yet know their names. It was the first time we had ever seen them as well. I was wearing pants to church that day, and I only remember this because Audrey told me later that this was one of the first things she noticed and she automatically wanted to know me. I think this fact sort of symbolizes what it is that draws me to her—our shared desire to see the Gospel work in any kind of person in any kind of life.

I don’t remember a whole lot about that dinner except that Audrey seemed a little uncomfortable, and Christian asked if my book was a chick book. Funny what you remember about first meetings.

Audrey and I didn’t see each other a whole lot after that because I was in primary, and it was months later when I saw her sitting in Sacrament meeting, and she happened to have some open seats next to her. I learned she’d been going through quite a rough time. She and Christian were separated, and while “divorced single mother” does not encompass who Audrey is, it was that moment, seeing her in church with little Kali on her lap, determined to be there no matter what stigma may follow, that my “amazing person radar” went off I told myself I was going to make more of an effort to know her.

That particular time in my life was pretty hard for me. I was only at church because I didn’t yet have a good enough reason not to be. So I guess you could say I was always looking for reasons to keep staying. Audrey was one of those reasons. I think we all have those people, right? The ones that we say, “If they can do it, so can I.” And then you keep your eye on them, because you need their example.

That’s how I learned that Audrey is not often idle. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say “I don’t have time…” and I have thought to myself, “You don’t know what that really means.” But I think Audrey does. I am continually impressed with what she manages to get done as a working single mother. She teaches 5th grade AND manages the school district’s website, and some other technical thingies that I don’t know a whole lot about. She works away from home. She works AT home. She works a LOT. And she is also super crafty and has an amazing eye for interior design.

In all the time I was in Williston, “Lunch with Audrey” was always on my to-do list, and I am sad to say I never got to. (It’s STILL on my to-do list though!) But I did get to talk to her for more than a couple minutes from time to time, and I was able to glean a lot about her during those times. Audrey is a smiley person. That’s just the way her face naturally falls, it seems. And she laughs a lot. She laughs no matter what she’s feeling, but if you know her well enough, you can tell the difference, and you know what each laugh means. Some people wear their emotions on their face. Audrey wears them in her laugh. I don’t know if she would hide her emotions if she could, but I’m glad she doesn’t.

The longer I have known Audrey, the more I have WANTED to know her. She doesn’t fit a mold, and you know how you can meet a person and think, “This person reminds me of such and such a friend”? Well I can’t think of anyone Audrey reminds me of. I love her uniqueness. And I love the things that come out of her mouth when it comes to the Gospel. They are the words of someone who has put a great deal of thought into how the Gospel fits into her life. She actively engages herself at church. Having spent many months disenfranchised with Sunday meetings, it was people like Audrey that helped rekindle my love for it. Audrey came to help me fold the Clark’s laundry while they were with Chase in the hospital even though I know Audrey is one of the few people that can honestly say, “I don’t have time.” Sometimes small acts speak even more than big ones. When you know what someone sacrifices in order to serve, it makes it that much more meaningful.

I don’t have extended family that are members of my church. This means that I cannot lean on them for my testimony, for my conversion. I can’t “do as they do” because we don’t rely on the same principles. This means that I have to pick and choose who will fill that place for me, who will be that example. It wasn’t something I consciously did after I was baptized, but it happened. Sometimes I “pick” them because they have obvious struggles or because they are so drastically different from me and it intrigues me. Sometimes I “pick” them because we have similar ideologies. These people are those whose opinions and whose actions I care about the most because they strengthen me the most. Audrey is all of these things. I find her inspiring in every way. She just… TRIES. And it’s evident in all that she does. Her life, like mine, is this beautiful mess. I consider it the best kind of life, the most inspiring kind. She might struggle to stay on top of things, and her head may barely be above water, but it's far better than wading. I know from experience the kind of faith that takes, and the kind of growth that engenders. She's an active participant in her own life. It’s kind of addicting to watch her push onward no matter what. You just want to keep cheering for people like her. And you want to BE someone like her.

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