Mentoring…why should I?

452232481The Webster dictionary describes mentoring as this: “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person” .  As my pastor, Joe Canal, put it  a few weeks ago:

“Mentoring is like putting your hand on the small of someones back as they’re riding a bicycle, and you gently push them along.  Surprisingly, it’s an easy thing for the stronger rider to do and takes very little effort, but to the less experienced rider, it makes all the difference.”  We are not meant to live this life alone, and if we listen, God will give us people to walk through this life with – whether for a season or a lifetime.

Let me be clear for a minute; some people tend to think that mentoring someone would mean spending hours and hours of time together, a huge life change on their part.  On the contrary, mentoring is just being available to someone when they need to talk and checking on them so that they know that you care.  As women especially, I feel like we get so wrapped up in “our” lives that we forget the command we have to speak into each other’s lives as well.  

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2:3 – 5

So, right now you’re probably thinking “this girl is crazy, she obviously doesn’t understand that I have nothing to give that anyone else would want”.  You are so wrong friend!  I used to think that way about myself, I felt like I could barely make it through the day sometimes without losing it, how would I help someone else?  But even in those times, God used me to come alongside of and listen when someone needed an ear or give advice when I had been through a similar situation. Mentoring, above all, is being available when someone needs you, and pointing them back to God.  Follow me as I follow Christ.  It’s that simple.  

I really feel like mentoring is VERY important, especially in today’s world, because we are starting more and more to become a culture of people who are separated behind computer/phone screens and we are forgetting how to share life together.  We are losing that connecting factor that we need in order to get through everyday routines, let alone tough situations.  It’s very easy to go through life and be so busy, and yet feel so alone and disconnected.  Mentoring brings back that one on one friendship that is vital, especially to women in today’s world.  When you have little kids and you’re stuck in the house a lot, you really need that person that’s been through that before to come in and give you perspective.  When your kids are teenagers and the problems seem bigger and overwhelming, it really helps to have that woman who’s gone through that to step in and help you walk through that.  Trust me, I speak from experience when I say that just the advice of someone who’s “walked where I’m walking” is beyond value when I feel at the end of my rope.  Never, never count yourself out and think you have nothing to give, you could be the life line that someone needs to keep them going at any minute.  Just. Be. Available.

Now, what if you’re in the stage where you really could benefit from having a mentor?  Is there someone in your life that you’ve watched walk through something, and you wonder how they did it?  Maybe you’re walking through something similar and knowing what got them through would be a big help to you? Please, be brave, don’t hesitate to go up and share that with them!  As someone who sells herself short too many times, I have to say it would be an honor to be asked something like that.  Reaching out can be a very hard thing to do, but just know that the reward will be great! Be brave, be purposeful, and seek out those people who you might already have a relationship with but you want to know a little better.  The greatest things in life don’t just fall into our laps, we have to seek them out and purpose to make them important.  If we don’t, the busyness of life will cause these opportunities to pass us by.

I want to leave you with this quote from Kelley Matthews from crosswalk.com, “Sometimes, “I’ll pray about it” is the most appropriate way to begin your decision-making. But when it comes to mentoring, I’d have to agree with Norma Becker, member of the board of directors of Campus Crusade for Christ, Canada. When a younger woman asking to be mentored suggested they pray about it, Norma responded with assurance: “We don’t pray about commands.”  Go out today and live your life a little more intentionally, the relationships that you need to get you through this stage in life God has already laid out all around you, just watch for them!

Have you mentored people in the past?  Do you have any tips on how to make this connection easier?  Feel free to comment in the box below!

 

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My love and me…and unlikely couple

photoChances are that if you know me, then you know this guy.  He’s pretty much the sunshine in my world and the man that has made me trust men again.  But, even if you know us, you might not know how we met and what we’ve been through this last 16 years that makes our relationship that much more special.

About 16 years ago I was going through a divorce (a bad one…is there any other kind?) and was a single Mom of 2 little girls.  I had just started a new job, at the Little America truck stop outside of town in Wyoming (if this could sound any more hillbilly then I don’t know how), and I was being shown around the whole place by a friend of mine.  We went to take off in the van (this facility is very big) and a young guy stepped out in front of the van attempting to be funny, but when he saw me he just froze for a minute.  He stared at me and smiled.  Later he told me that he went straight to his friends and said “that girl is going to be my wife one day”.

From that time forward, we actually became good friends.  We would talk for hours about our families, friends and our history.  He was such a nice guy, something I wasn’t really used to at that time in my life, I didn’t know they still existed.

Flash forward about a year and we moved in together, we were both young and he was still in high school!  Again, I’m not condoning it, I’m just telling the story of how we became “us”.  If my daughter was to try this with somebody I’m pretty sure a shotgun and a jail sentence would soon follow! But we were in love (you know how that feeling of love can be when you’re so young), and we wanted to be together forever.

Eventually we moved to Texas and got married, only to struggle every step of the way, financially and in our marriage.  There were so many times that we came to the end of ourselves and nearly gave up, one person packing their bags ready to walk out the door.  But every time, “something” would bring us back together and we would try again, giving it our best efforts.  We found a good church that we could call family and from there God entered our marriage and we thought “now our marriage will get better and our life will get easier”.  For anyone who has ever thought that, I’m sure you now know how completely untrue that statement is!

We’ve now been married over 14 years, have 3 awesome children and have been through a tough few years…but here we are, loving each other more than ever before and working on our relationship every single day.  I’m very proud to say that I’m still married to the love of my life and plan on keeping it that way “until death do us part”. If you know Josh and I at all, you know that we are COMPLETELY opposite people –

– He likes metal music, I like…pretty much anything other than metal

– He likes watching movies and lazy days at home, I like getting out and going places

– He is an introvert (of sorts) and doesn’t like crowds, I love going places with lots of people

So how do we make it work? Here’s a few of our simple tips that work for us:

1.  We stopped comparing ourselves to other couples, we’re us and they are them – we’re never going to look the same (and how boring if we did)

2.  We strive to find activities that we both like to do and then we do it together! This is challenging because we have so few things in common, but we have a few now

3.  We try to keep a short record of accounts – meaning that if we’re upset with the other we try to take care of it quickly so it doesn’t build up over time and become a monster

4.  Find a couple that can be “mentors” to you – this was hard for us since we didn’t have family, but over the years we’ve had a few couples who have been there for us and allowed us to talk things through with them.  Having another couple in your corner is beyond helpful, it’s almost necessary!

5.  Remember that your marriage is a marathon, not a sprint.  Make decisions and base your actions in the long term.  Be patient, love is a feeling and might not always be there, but that doesn’t mean that your actions of love go away too! Love is a verb, take it into action.

Just because your love story isn’t a fairy tale or doesn’t look like someone else’s, doesn’t mean that your marriage is bad.  Look at why you loved him in the beginning, and work on letting go the of the things that maybe don’t matter as much – after all we’re all flawed. Try to do something every day to help your marriage and make your spouse feel like they’re special and loved.  Marriage is a lot of work, but every little effort that you put in will pay off in the long run!

Do you have any hints or tips on how you make your marriage better?  Please share below in the comments!