I Remember When Amy
I still don’t remember the email exchange that occurred on the night I met Amy Main, though she’s told me the story so many times that I feel like I remember it. She found the Covenant Baptist Church website back in 1995. It was a silly website, but weren’t they all back then? Ours had Monty Python links and a goofy little animated stick-figure image that illustrated my growing anxiety as Sunday approached.
It was just quirky enough to intrigue her, so she sent me an email around midnight. I happened to be on the computer at the time, so I replied immediately, which surprised her almost as much as when she discovered that I lived just around the corner. We had a “You like Monty Python too?” email exchange, and then she showed up a church.
We were meeting in an elementary school at the time, and visitors were scarce. I remember that I looked up one Sunday morning and there she was sitting over to the right. I could see that she was interested and observant, but also cautious. I did not see her passion, her intelligence, her sense of humor, or her drive for excellence. Those things I would discover later. Neither did I see her pain, though it is evident in her eyes. I had no idea how deeply Amy had been wounded by people who dared to call themselves the church.
I would hear her stories later, and I would discover that Amy possesses a determined and childlike kind of faith. She has seen the worst of church, but she will not give up hoping for the best from God. She well knows the failings of people who use the name of Christ, but she believes that Jesus will never let her down. Her faith in God is endless and boundless and deeper than her worst experiences.
Amy Main is a true believer. That is what I would say about her.
Her husband Michael was not with her that first Sunday. He was just sniffing around the edges of Christianity at that time. Later he would join her and sit there in the elementary school on Sunday mornings, quietly watching and soaking it in.
And now nine years have somehow slipped by. Amy is an elder at Covenant and Michael is a deacon. Their leadership is such a critical part of our community that I can’t imagine Covenant Baptist Church without them. When I try to remember how we got from those first tentative meetings to such a rich and abiding friendship, all I can do is come up with a few snapshot memories.
I remember the first time Amy sang “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” to open the season of Advent. I sat in the third of our three rows and wept. I was not prepared for the rich beauty of her voice.
I remember the evening I baptized Michael in a swimming pool along with a man named George who also became a deacon.
I remember when Michael and I started watching The Cowboys together on Sunday afternoons at his house. We’ve moaned, groaned, and cheered our way through several seasons together. When we built our church in 1999 and started worshipping at 10:30 instead of the traditional 11:00, some people suggested that I pushed for that time just so Michael and I would never miss the first quarter. I will neither confirm nor deny the truth of that rumor.
I remember how Amy used to stick her little finger in my youngest daughter Lillian’s mouth, which made her stop crying every time. Only Amy could do this. It was like some kind of comic book super power.
I remember when we had a church meeting to discuss the fact that we had no one to teach Sunday School for the four and five-year old children. Michael, still new to the faith, raised his hand while Amy stared at him, dumbfounded. He said, “I don’t know much about the bible, really, and I’m probably the poster child for how you do NOT want your children to turn out, but I’d be willing to teach them if someone would help me with the lessons.” Amy was thrilled with his leap of faith and immediately volunteered to be his assistant.
There was a little of this, a little of that, a little of the other thing, and now close to a decade has gone by. We’re all a little older and I hope a little wiser.
Yes, I remember when Amy was just someone who showed up at church one Sunday morning. Now she and Michael are such dear friends that there is no word to describe them unless it is the word “family.” Our shared faith and ministry continually give me hope and strengthen me when I feel weak.
Now Amy and Michael are living through the most serious challenge of their marriage. Some of you read Michael Main’s blog and know of Amy’s health struggles over the last year. Somehow, in spite of it all, their marriage is intact, and they both say their faith in God is stronger than ever. Amy brought Michael to our church when he was in need, and now he is standing with her in the middle of her pain.
We gave our church the name “Covenant" because that is a word that means “sacred agreement.” We use that word to describe our agreement to be God’s people in this world. We use that word to describe our community agreement to stand by each other in good times and in hard times. And I would use that word to describe Amy and Michael’s marriage. Theirs is a covenant kind of relationship.
I pray for Amy and Michael all the time. Sometimes when I pray for them I don’t say anything. I breath until I become quiet, then I think about what it means to be a faithful, Covenant person. I imagine their faces and flip through my picture book of memories. And no matter how hard things are for them, I always find a reason to smile.
Michael and Amy, aka Pepe and Evangelina