This week, a dear friend of mine is getting married.
She has been a tremendous help to me since my move to Oklahoma, sharing practical advice on the single life, career, relationships, finances, housing. She is farther down the path than me, in more ways than one. And this week I have the privilege of watching her marry a wonderful man and begin a new adventure. I am filled with happiness for her.
As her wedding date approaches, I am reminded of how much her friendship means to me, of how much I appreciate that she has mentored me.
We all need a mentor at some point in our lives. We find ourselves facing a new path, and we need a guide to help us navigate the path ahead. Of course, we know our ultimate source of guidance and light is found in God’s Word. But sometimes we need someone with flesh and bones on them. Someone who can see the path ahead with all of its pitfalls, and who will tell us the truth about the path and ourselves.
I have had other mentors in my life. My sister Joanna. My cousin Amy (now married). The two of them showed me–and continue to show me–the definition of bravery and facing life with passion and determination. I have watched other singles struggle with the same issues I have faced. And I have seen them persevere through many tough situations, situations they were not initially prepared to face. But they conquered.
In my teens and 20s, I remember the girls who seemed to “spiritualize” their singleness.
“Let’s be joyful!” they would exclaim in their letters to me.
“Keep your eyes on Him!”
“He is your Husband.”
While all of these sentiments are true, they did nothing to offer comfort. I was hurting! I needed someone with flesh and bones on him, someone real who could give me a hug or kiss now and then. I needed someone who understood me, who cared to listen to what I had to say. I guess I was just not spiritual. (Often these were the girls who married early.)
If there’s one thing I have learned through watching other singles, it is this: the path can be lonely and long. The struggle is private, but real. I am reminded of a stanza from one of Emily Dickinson’s poems:
To fight aloud, is very brave –But gallanter, I knowWho charge within the bosomThe Cavalry of Wo –
Sometimes it can seem like an entire “cavalry of woe” is within me as I navigate through seasons of life. But in the midst of the journey, I have learned a few things from my mentors.
- Keep believing. I can never stop trusting that God has a plan. Through eyes of faith, I know that He is good and He is working behind the scenes of my life, no matter how my story will end. My sister Joanna has often quoted Psalm 84:11: “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
- Keep loving. Shielding my heart from loving is a common response when I am hurting. I must love others even if I do not have the kind of love I seek. I must love my family. Care for my friends. Seek out the lost and lonely, and befriend them.
- Keep serving. No matter what is happening in life, or what position I am in, I will always have an opportunity to serve the Lord and others in my church. Focusing on others has been a solace to me, and I always feel happier when I have served them.
These truths are still sinking deep into my heart, along with something else.
It’s my turn to be a mentor.