Dateline Tuscaloosa: August, 1980.
I was a 17-year-old college freshman. Certain that I would eventually be the first woman president of the US, I set out to leave my mark on the Capstone of Higher Education. For the moment, I was mostly certain that I would begin my world conquest by pledging a particular sorority popular in my small town.
Just before leaving for T-Town, I received a call from a woman I didn’t know–Mrs. Dotson. She would like to write a recommendation. I’d never heard of her sorority but she seemed nice, so I said “thank you.”
In the wee morning hours on the last day of sorority rush, I received the call that every “potential new member” dreads. I had not received a bid from either of my first two choices, but another sorority would like to offer me a bid.
In the midst of my bafflement, I answered: “OK, yes, I’ll accept their bid.”
[Cue: Sandra Bullock. If I ever need a film stand-in, she’s my choice. Oh wait, we’re too old now to play 17. Perhaps Emma Watson could still pull it off?]
A few hours later, I joined my new sisters on the rocking chairs on the front porch of the DZ house. They gave me a pink and green turtle name tag with my first name blazoned across the top. Fun fact: Sheree is my middle name. A grace opportunity–they had no reason to know.
Crystal, twins Pat and Mike, and Abby were stuck playing hostess to the “what’s your name, again?” kiddo. Confusion and surprise notwithstanding, I felt welcomed.
The sorority that Mrs. Dotson wrote the rec for….Delta Zeta….they were the group of women who offered me a bid to join their sisterhood. I know there are some who reject Greek life. This post is not for you. Feel free to scroll on.
Friendships were born. Memories made. Horizons expanded.
A few years into my professional life, I ended up back in Tuscaloosa. One of the partners in the law firm where I was employed was the oldest son of a Delta Zeta alumnae whom I knew well from those college days. That’s how God works.
Ani ohevet othka.
Sandi Patty’s song ‘Love in Any Language’ was a feature in the DZ “Serious Night” ceremony. Every time I heard the song performed, I was moved, not just by agape love, which is God’s unconditional love for us, but also by philia — the love we know as friendship–that I’d experienced through Delta Zeta.
In those years, my DZ sisters were my best friends. They were there during tough personal times and in moments of self-doubt. They helped me achieve more than I ever could have on my own. As an alumnae adviser, the collegiate women I came to know helped me grow into a new phase in my life as I moved toward becoming the person God had designed me to be.
My Delta Zeta sisters taught me about crusading for justice, about temperance and insight and courage, giving graciously, and love that is ever steadfast.
I love you.
Through Delta Zeta, I learned empathy and how to see the world through a lens other than my own. I learned about other Christian denominations, about the Jewish faith, and how to relate to those who have no faith in ways that might allow light to filter into darkness.
I learned something about how much we all have in common, and how insufficient our English language is to express the many faces of love.
Delta Zeta helped me to understand that love is patient, kind, does not envy or boast, is not proud, rude or self-seeking, and always perseveres.
Though the glass is still a bit foggy, I also learned something about the love that surpasses all knowledge. Even when we can’t express it adequately in words, there’s no misinterpreting the language of the heart.
Sheree Martin is a lawyer, entrepreneur and digital media consultant. She’s on a mission to help others Discover, Grow and Shine. Sheree is mom to multiple furry creatures and aunt to three awesome young adults. She loves spending time outdoors, especially at Shine Springs Farm, doing anything fitness related, and cooking real food for friends and family.