I remember my favorite teacher, Mrs. Marilyn Elliott, who taught me in 8th Grade. She was awesome, fun, firm, fair, consistent, and encouraging. When I became a teacher, I couldn’t wait to reach out to her, so I searched and searched, only to find out that she had passed away three years prior. I was devastated, but still thankful that she had been in my life!

One thing that she preached is that we spend a great deal of time, as young people, trying to find our place in this world. “When your purpose comes and rings your doorbell,” she would say, “you darn well better be ready to answer it!”

This intrigued me, so I raised my hand and asked, “Ma’am? How will we know it’s our true purpose in life?”

A smile spread over her face and she winked at me. “Well, darlin’, it’s like this: it will keep ringing that doorbell until you answer it.”

I also have to say, and I tear up even now as I type this, that she told me I was a strong writer, but that I had to build that strength like a bodybuilder; I had to keep on reading and writing to become even better! I am so thankful that God put this sweet soul in my life. She is a part of who I am today. I certainly hope she’s proud of me, from Heaven. As her student, she would give me different things that I wouldn’t normally read and she opened my eyes to different styles of writing. She had us do an awesome, semester-long study of the Holocaust and brought in a lovely elderly Polish lady (her next-door neighbor) who survived, even though the rest of her family did not. She still bore her tattooed number, which she showed the entire class without remorse, and talked to us about her experiences and how she forgave the Nazis that imprisoned and tortured her. She proclaimed that she did that to be able to grow and live her life — I was in awe of such tenacity of spirit! When I did my research, which notified me of Mrs. E’s passing, I also found out that she had won a major award. This award was bestowed on her by the Jewish community. What a blessing she was to the World! I am honored to have known Mrs. E! <3

The reason for this trip back to the past is this: domestic violence advocacy IS my purpose. God saved my life and it is now my calling to help others. This is one of the scariest things a person can encounter and since I have survived over twenty-three years of it, God keeps presenting opportunities to me: to tell my story, to help others in similar circumstances, to educate others on what DV is, and to push for laws to help keep victims safer.

How can someone resist such a calling? I get to help people, help them to restore their lives, and meet new friends every day. That’s a WIN-WIN-WIN. Mrs. Elliott, please know that I answered the door and I’m ready to receive.

Be blessed! I pray your purpose comes to call on you!

Here is Mrs. Elliott’s obituary here, if you’d like a glimpse into greatness: https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/commercialappeal/name/marilyn-elliott-obituary?id=12978184