Sue started out as a friend but became like a sister to Ellen Mongan, who writes of her gratitude for such a true friend.
“A friend is a friend at all times, and a brother is born for the time of adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
We all know Jesus loves us but sometimes we need Jesus with skin on. When a cross is being carried one gets weary and in desperation, with the little strength we can muster, a cry goes out to the Father. He always hears our cry. How does He answer? God sends Jesus with skin on.
I can almost hear God the Father ask His Son Jesus, “Whom shall I send?” His Son knows full well the weight of a cross, not only the physical pain but also the emotional and spiritual pain. Pausing for a moment, Jesus asks for someone to help shoulder the cross, one who is strong and knows how to persevere, for no one can carry a cross alone. The Father remembers His only begotten Son falling three times and His suffering is hard for the Father to watch, so He sends Simon.
At times in my own life when I needed a Simon, God sent a gal named Sue Hoyt. She was gifted with an “I can do it" kind of attitude. Strong and reliable, Sue was always willing to lend a helping hand. She was the first phone call I made when a crisis knocked on my door. Sue was always quick to respond and never too busy to care.
While recovering from the birth of our fifth child, Joshua, Sue offered to do my carpools for me so I would not have to take my baby out into the December cold. It was a kind deed and no small feat, a sacrifice of love. She did not have a car so I offered mine. Daily, Sue walked to my home in the cold while carrying in her arms a newborn she was babysitting. I cannot tell you the countless times she came running to my side. She was my Simon, always ready to shoulder the cross. Sue started as a friend but became a true sister.
Who is Sue to you?
As tough as physical pain is, emotional pain is often more unbearable and often misunderstood. When one suffers emotionally, often friends run away, even Jesus was deserted by most. Our Heavenly Father understands. “Whom shall I send?” I can almost hear Him ask.
“A Veronica!” is Jesus’ reply. “Send one who can see a tear in the eye as they pass by. Send one who will take the time to wipe with tender care, not only the teardrops but the entire face of one suffering. One who with compassion can look right in the eye that was spit upon and pour out love. One who takes the time to restore another’s dignity.
"Father, send Veronica!”
There were times in my own life when emotional pain had the best of me. I felt lost and alone. “If you do not come through for me, Lord, I will go down in the pit,” became my cry! What did my Heavenly Father do? He sent a Veronica who wiped my tears away and restored my dignity. It was a season where not any friend would do. My “Abba” daddy sent another Sue.
Sue Seklecki was the first person I met in Augusta. Our husbands were both physicians who worked together. She too was a mother of many and devoted to Christ. We eventually became neighbors, then friends, then sisters. Sue was one of those servants of God who wore Jesus not on her sleeve, but inside her heart. God had bestowed upon her a gift of “agape” love. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13) Sue was not only there for me but also for her husband, her children, her family, her friends, and all she met.
When Amanda, my fourth child was born, I was exhausted. Having been pregnant or nursing for eight years straight had taken a toll on my health. My cup was empty. God sent Sue to fill it. Unless you have been both a physical and emotional wreck, you will not understand. Sue stepped into the shoes of compassion and brought me through the storm. She had the unique ability to take on my life and hers at the same time without a complaint. Sue led me back to wholeness through Christ’s love.
Who is Sue for you?
“My child has collapsed under the weight of the cross. A mother is needed to carry him to me. Whom shall I send?”
Jesus knew just who. “Send one like my Mother, faithful and true, gentle, and wise, one with a mother’s heart. My mother stood at the foot of my cross as I hung there to die. Her love helped me endure the pain. She was my final glance as I took my last breath. Her prayers carried me home. Only someone like my Mother will do; send a Mary.”
The Christian walk is not for the faint-hearted. When one encounters spiritual pain, God sends one who has walked and talked with Him and hears His voice. The dark night of the soul is a time of feeling the absence of God in your life. In this time of doubt, worry, and confusion, one is not looking for free advice or a show of Scripture knowledge. It is a time for letting a spiritual mother carry you, do battle for you, and lead you through the desert. Even though you do not know the way she does, she journeyed it. Along the way she learned God’s voice and surrendered her life to Him.
When my life filled with darkness and I did not know the way. God sent a third Sue. Sue Stenger became my spiritual mother and my forever friend. I will never forget her. God holds Sue in the palm of His hand. Sue was a one-of-a-kind mentor whose every word was deposited into my soul. Sue’s words were eternal, coming from the Word of God. They still bear fruit in my life.
She was the kind of friend that you could take off your shoes with and bare your soul. You could laugh out loud with her and cry with real tears but never feel judged. If I had a spiritual question, she was my first call. Sue was to so many, “Jesus with skin on.” She taught me that phrase. Spending time with her whether making an apple pie or chatting in the sunshine, God was invited to be with us. Sue knew God and God knew Sue.
When God needed to send someone to stand at the foot of the cross with another, He called upon Sue. She always said, “Yes.” Few can stand at the foot of the cross with another except someone like Sue who has carried a cross. She carried many crosses and never ran away. She, like Mary our Mother, stood at the foot of my cross waiting and praying.
Who is Sue for you?
St. Teresa said, “I cannot promise you happiness on this earth but in the next.” Suffering has a way of
changing us forever. God does not leave us to suffer alone. Whom shall He send? He will send a Simon, a Veronica, or a Mary, or a Sue to walk by our side. When we cannot take another step, they carry us. Jesus knows what it is like to suffer. He too needed a Simon, a Veronica, a Mary, and a Sue. His Father sent them as signs of His love. He will do the same for you!
Copyright 2020 Ellen Mongan
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About the Author
Ellen Mongan, a Catholic writer and speaker, has been married more than 40 years to Deacon Pat Mongan. They have 7 children and 12 grandchildren. Ellen is a host of WOW Radio Podcasts, a religious columnist for the Augusta Chronicle, and has spoken on both radio and television. She is the founder of Sisters in Christ, Little Pink Dress Ministry, and Women-Fests.