The Excruciatingly Painful and Important Work of Mentoring
The other day, I was reading through a devotional that was talking about mentors. As I pondered the women in my life who have poured into me, I was reminded of how blessed I have been to have so many wonderful examples. In each stage of my life, God has blessed me with women who have pointed me to Jesus.
A few years ago, my whole view of mentoring was challenged. For decades, I had been pouring into younger women, sharing my heart with them, opening the Word of God with them, encouraging them and challenging them. I listened to hurting and broken hearts and sought to love them well. I didn’t always do this perfectly, but it was always my desire to honor God in these relationships.
And then one day, I discovered the ugly side of investing in others. It wasn’t the first time I had been hurt; disappointment had been a frequent part of my journey. But on this day, I was accused of being the reason for poor choices and bad decisions (according to the accuser’s perception). I was taken aback, but after a lot of prayer and an attempt at resolution, I learned that not everyone will be willing to see my heart and there are some situations that will never be resolved.
This was extremely hard for me to accept. At first, I was completely surprised. Really? You’re blaming me for seeking to help this person that you say you love? But then I was angry. Seriously? How can you not see that I have always wanted the best and for God to be glorified in this person?!! But as God worked on my heart and I sought to forgive, I was left with sadness.
Sadness for what is missed when we don’t seek to learn from others. Sadness that kindness is so easily disregarded and that unity in the body is ignored as if it is simply a nice suggestion, but not a command. Sadness for sin that so easily entangles.
It has taken me a long time to pour into others again. I’m still a little gun shy, afraid of being hurt and betrayed again. Little hurts or disappointments that in the past would have been a slightly painful now open the scars to some deep wounds. But those wounds drive me to my knees and they cause me to cry out to the Lord for He is truly my strength and my song. I wrote a haiku the other day (because that is what homeschooling moms do it seems!) that expresses my heart.
Falling to pieces
I cry out to my Savior
He gently sustains.
This journey has caused me to question many things. Do I pour into others because I like feeling that I am important in their lives? Or do I truly pour into others because I want them to see Jesus? If someone has an issue with me, do I take that personally or do I really believe Matthew 5:10 when it says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”?
Before this experience, I believed that if I mentored young women based on the Word of God all would go well. People would see me heart and trust my motivations. I now know this is not always true, but I am even more convinced that it is necessary. Because Titus 2 is not just a nice suggestion; it is a command. Older women are to teach what is good to younger women. Period. I must first be seeking God’s Word to impact and change my life, but then I am compelled to share with those God causes to cross my path.
This experience has also taught me to be deeply grateful for the women who pour into my daughter’s life. From the time she was little, my girl has been a challenge. She is ridiculously creative which sometimes makes her an oddity to her peers and causes friction with authority figures. For her people pleasing mom, this has been extremely difficult. I just want her to fit in, to not rock any boats, to be compliant and respectful and gracious and generous. You can see the struggle, right?!
It has been fascinating for me to watch her personality unfold and to see the responses of older women in her life. For those who are accustomed to working with children who fit into the nice and neat boxes of expectations, my girl does not fit. But for those who are willing to love her for who she is, understanding that God is most certainly not done working on her, I have watched a beautiful relationship develop.
And so, to the mentors in my daughter’s life, past and present, I want to extend a wholehearted thank you! Thank you for seeing past her idiosyncrasies and loving her anyway. Thank you for seeing Christ in her and seeking to point her to the truth of who she is in Christ. Thank you for not jumping to conclusions, but instead dealing gently with her heart. Thank you for challenging her when she sins, for praying with her and for allowing Christ to change her heart.
Mothers are not supposed to be the ONLY ones who mentor their daughters and I have learned this fully and completely. I am continually grateful that my daughter has many older women who pour into her. I know that she will make bad choices in the future (just as she does in the present!), but I will never blame anyone else for those choices. I know better!
Mentoring is important, but it is hard. If you have been hurt in a mentor relationship, how are you allowing God to heal your heart?