Jim Meinhardt has a presence. He comes into a room abruptly, carriage high, and mouth smiling. Built like a Clydesdale, Jim is six feet tall and a rock-solid two hundred ten, so when he plants his feet, he is nigh on immoveable. He radiates a particular kind of energy that is amplified by definitive life. Jim is retired Air Force, and has 24 years of flying monstrous cargo planes all over the world. A devout Christian, Jim now flies passenger jets for United and grows peppers for his church garden.
Jim and I had met years ago through a friend, and I had kept up with him on social media largely because of his politically active family. I would shoot him particularly exciting skydiver videos, or political items. He and his family would comment on the politics of the day, often with great hilarity.
On a lark, last month I sent him an invitation to ski, as I knew he favored Vail. (You know that two of my girls are ski instructors there now, and the employee buddy passes are the only reason I set a boot on that pricey slope.)
I was delighted when Jim accepted my invitation, and made plans to meet him one sunny day at Vail. What followed was a remarkable day skiing with a peer. (You folks know my children are expert skiers. A lifetime ago, Chris and I planned to give each child ten years of ski instruction, the goal therein being that they’d always be able to ski, together, anything on the mountain. Goal achieved, it’s hilarious to watch them bomb down slopes as adults.)
One by one each child’s skiing ability outstripped mine. Somewhere around year eight, Rachael, my last child, eclipsed me. Now when we ski, it’s the children who wait for me with good grace, rather than the other way around.
The girls started their day, and Jim and I started ours. We flew down after run, made plan after plan, and ended with a late lunch at the top of the gondola. Jim and I were nearly equally matched, which was a rare pleasure for me.
The next day, Jim bravely plunged into the scattered, driven world of Victoria. When Chris died, I acquired several jobs. I became Dad, Mom, household manager, preschool director, real estate developer, property manager, care provider for old folks, and all around shepherd to important people around me. I’m equipped for only a few of these. The rest, I simply do the best I can with the tools around me. Leadership like this can be wearisome.
I had several things on the agenda for that Sunday, and forgot to include Jim in nearly all of them. No matter, Jim was a good sport of the highest order. I was late for a meeting, and rushed out of the house without offering the man breakfast. He made it himself. We needed chairs for the game day party, Jim lugged and carried what we had.
Finally, we were to go to church to get Dad for the day. I walked with Jim to the sanctuary, and we sat, listening to the sermon. It was time to pray, and Jim took my hands. The prayer was long, and I sat with Jim, holding hands, praying together.
I opened my eyes, and looked at Jim’s hands. They were huge. Mine felt small in his, and I felt small, sitting there, holding hands with a Godly man.
Small, comforted, and, oddly protected. Suddenly, tears welled up in my eyes, and I fought down a sob. Holding hands with a Godly man in a protected space was heartbreaking in it’s comfort. Jim had blessed me in a completely unexpected way.
Christian women, listen well. Don’t take that blessing for granted. God is indeed a friend to the widow, but the gift of a Godly man is a rare jewel indeed. Treasure him every single time you can.