Loved Down Deep | Remembering Abbie

Emily Katherine Dalton
April 11th, 2019

I left work and took a familiar route home.

As I drove and listened to music, I processed through which families I would see and questions I wanted to ask them to catch up on their lives and worlds.  This felt familiar, like many drives leaving work heading to one of my girls’ games or recitals, planning the faces I would see in the bleachers. But this time I wasn’t driving to watch one of my girls play a sport or an instrument.  I was driving to a funeral.

A young girl in my church passed away suddenly.  Our hearts were broken for her family and the future she had planned.  I parked and saw her small group gathering together, a group of girls I have often had to quiet down in Sunday school or late at night during trips and events.  But as the cool winds blew in front of the funeral home, blowing their black skirts behind them, there was a silence. A loss. An emptiness.

Her funeral was hard and heartbreaking.  Various family members and Sunday school teachers shared, remembering her bright eyes and honest nature.  Our senior pastor shared about his most recent conversation with this girl. She had been working at a deli in our small town that many of us frequent.  He shared that one day during her break she came over and sat with him to talk. His tears told just how much this moment meant to him as he said, “I just hope in that moment she felt comfortable and welcomed to come sit with her old, grey-haired pastor, because she knew that old, grey-haired pastor loved her very much.”

I’ve thought about this often in the last month.  As I sent my girls I discipled most closely off to college last year the urgency was all over my heart to be SO sure they knew so many things, but I kept coming back to two things.  That each and every girl knew deep down in their bones that Jesus loves them and I do too.

I have found I often complicate what I’m teaching those I’m discipling.  I feel so sure they need to know the genealogy of the bloodline of Jesus, the best ways to study Scripture, the major arguments against our faith and our response to them, the ethics of big issues in our world, etc.  But sitting in the funeral of this sweet girl my heart felt overwhelmingly heavy that she knew Jesus loved her and that I did too.

Strategic, dedicated, and faithful discipleship are so crucial in the lives of those we disciple.  My girls can walk you through the bloodline from Adam to Moses through the path we created in the back of our youth building with many an inside joke along the way.  

But as I sat in that funeral home chapel and as I receive my girls who are now college girls back on each break, I’ve found myself teaching much less, leaning in much more and praying that they know deep in their bones that Jesus loves them and I do too.   

Emily Katherine Dalton

Emily Katherine Dalton serves as the Assistant Coordinator of Discipleship Intensives with the WinShape College Program in Rome, GA. EmK grew up in Spartanburg, South Carolina where she was called to ministry, moving to Rome, Georgia to study Psychology and Spanish at Berry College. She now works in full time college ministry, is pursuing a Master's of Divinity, has a book coming out in the next year, and loves all things chocolate peanut butter.

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