Women I Admire Day 11: Holly Jackson The Lamplighter #WomensHistoryMonth

When the Wife and I moved to the DC area 10 years ago, we had no friends. We knew absolutely no one, minus her sister who lives about 45 minutes away.
Shortly after getting all settled, we joined a church in the area that fit our belief structure, had a good mix in their community, and was relevantly close to our apartment. One summer Sunday we got invited to a house warming party for another couple that is close to our age, and lived in the same community as us.

Oddly enough, I was excited to attend this party. I decided to leave my introvert self at home that night, and try and meet people. While this is so not my style, I was feeling the effects of not having any friends in the area and missing my guys back home in San Diego.
My confidence was quickly crushed as I noticed the party was full of hot shot 30 somethings. The kind of people that were talking about their new position at some lobbying firm, or which congressional member that met last week, or some current event happening in politics and how it was going to effect the stock market. Some debated which clubs would best improve their stroke count on the links, and many were literally sniffing wine and swirling it around. All it took was for a handful of those people to ask me what I did for a living, and the eventual patronizing, “Oh hey….that’s cool” when I revealed I was in retail management, and hadn’t attended some prestigious college like they had.
I was moments away from heading for the door when I saw the Wife engaged in conversation with another couple we went to church with. I scraped up what little dignity I had left and wandered over to her to quietly merge myself into her interaction. The wife of the other couple’s name was Holly. She not only went to church with us, but was the youth education minister at our church.
Holly was exactly what I needed to repair my wounded confidence. Friendly, welcoming, and most of all, very smart, Holly; not but a couple years older than me, shared much of my same nerd-inspired enthusiasm.
I think I probably occupied 75-80% of Holly’s time at the party, but she never complained. I heard how her and her husband met. How they were still relatively new to the area too, and how she was big sports fan like me. Unfortunately she’s a Yankees fan, but I was willing to look past that since she was so nice.
I also found out that Holly was, and still is, deeply moved by her faith, and that she had always wanted to be a minister, and have her own congregation, or as people in that walk f life say, she felt called to be a minister. She told me growing up in a different branch Christianity, they didn’t support women being in a position to minister to a flock, and she knew it was not the right place for her.
Over the following years knowing Holly, she has since been ordained as a minister in the UCC, and is now the minister of her own congregation, and I count myself lucky to have witnessed her faith grown and grow, all while she maintained her goal, and her calling.
When Holly was ordained, I had since stepped away from the church, but still attended now again. I did, however attend her discernment early on in the process. At a discernment, members of the congregation are asked to pose questions to the individual seeking eventual ordination, or present comments as to why you think the person is a good fit for the calling.
I stood and read a poem I had seen earlier in the day about being a lamplighter. I can no longer find the poem, but the gist of it was that as a lamplighter, you help light the path for others. You help people find their way out of the darkness, and that there is always a path home. I told the congregation that this poem reminded me of Holly because she had been a really good friend to me ever since that night I hogged all her time at a party. Many times over the following years Holly had been there for me in my time of need, checked in on me to see if I was doing ok, and had been a constant source of light during dark times.
Holly is now a minister of her own congregation, and I no longer attend church. And while our views on faith or religion as a whole may be completely different, and we don’t see each other but on social media most times, I still consider her a good friend and am so proud of her that she realized her dream.
I admire Holly’s dedication to her faith and to her family. As a mother to two teenage kids, she is a constant source of integrity and persistence, wrapped in a bow of of love and compassion. And even though she still maintains this horrible affection for the Yankees, I (a Red Sox fan) still sees her as one of the best people I’ve been fortunate to meet.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy these:
Women I Admire Day 10: The Ladies of Totally Profesh #WomensHistoryMonth
Women I Admire Day 9: Beth The Bourgeois Alien #WomensHistoryMonth


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