My friend Lilly sat across from me at Chili’s telling me about her upcoming vacation to Sedona, Arizona. She was happy to have the hotel booked and the trip officially on the calendar. And she was looking forward to her sister and brother-in-law joining her and her husband for the getaway.
Excited for her, I assured her she would love Sedona.
“You’ve been there?” Lilly’s eyes lit up when she realized I’d already visited the popular vacation destination.
“Yeah, I’ve been there a couple of times,” I replied. “In fact, Abigail and I were there just about this time last year.”
“Oh! Then you can tell me what to do and where to eat there!” Lilly was obviously glad to gain a little insight from someone who had been there before.
I thought back to mine and Abigail’s mother/daughter vacation and immediately recalled the Indian Gardens Cafe and Market. Abby and I had been so enchanted with this unlikely gem, that we visited it no fewer than three times. But I knew if I didn’t specifically tell Lilly about it and describe it in detail they would drive right by it. On the outside it looks like an unimpressive bait and tack shop. But inside they brew delicious coffees and dish up gourmet sandwiches and breakfast dishes.
But, I pointed out to Lilly, the real treasure of Indian Gardens is not inside the gas-station-turned-eclectic-coffee-shop, but behind it. When you step out the back door, you step into an enchanting woodsy patio filled with wrought iron tables and chairs, surrounded by stone walls and the massive red rock of the region. It’s a lovely place to sip your coffee or enjoy lively conversation with others. But you have to be looking for it to find it.
Since that night at dinner with Lilly, I’ve emailed her the link to Indian Garden’s website and shared a few other helpful pointers with her. I’m glad she mentioned her upcoming trip to me because I love sharing about the places I’ve already been, especially with someone who’s traveling that same path soon. I know how helpful it is to gain insight from someone who’s been there before.
And that is exactly why I recently sought out a mentor for the first time in 30 years.
I’m Younger than Someone!
I wrestled for several years with the fact that I am indeed one of the “older women” mentioned in Titus 2:3-5. But for at least the past twelve years I have been actively mentoring younger women. I’ve mentored through MOPS, the Apples of Gold ministry and one-on-one. Plus, I’ve intentionally mentored my own daughter.
Quite honestly, sometimes I’ve grown a little jealous of the young women I’ve mentored. I’ve wanted to yell, “Hey! I’m younger than someone! I want a mentor, too!” I craved the wisdom and perspective and instruction of an older woman for myself.
Several older women poured into my life generously when I was in college. But since I entered the ministry in 1990, I’ve usually found myself doing the teaching, advising, counseling and training. I’ve certainly had older women in my churches who loved on me and offered me insight in mothering and homemaking. And when I’ve attended pastors’ wives’ conferences I’ve gained from the wise instruction and encouragement taught by others who have walked this unique path longer than I have.
But, because my husband was also their pastor, I rarely felt the freedom to discuss marriage with any of the older women in my church. And because what I “do” as a pastor’s wife, writer, speaker and minister to women is so different from what anyone else in my church does, I’ve struggled with sharing the unique problems, strategies or even joys with another. Sure, people will gladly listen and even assist me at times, but they can’t mentor me in the unique paths I walk.
In December I began to feel a restless stirring for someone to treat me like the younger woman. The Lord began to plant in my heart a greater desire to learn. And I didn’t just want to learn from a book or an e-course or a conference. I wanted to learn from someone, to be a disciple, to walk alongside, to sit across the table. I longed for a mentor.
So I Asked
One morning early in January, before I even climbed out of bed, I sent a Facebook message to a beautiful and slightly older woman in my community asking her to consider a mentor relationship with me. I just woke up with the courage to ask, and I did it before I could back out. Of course, I prayed as I typed and I left it in God’s hands. I would trust the outcome to Him.
I’ve known this woman for years. We have mutual friends and our paths frequently cross in ministry, but it had never occurred to me to reach out to her as a mentor. But that day, for some strange reason, the Lord opened my eyes to the possibilities.When God creates the desires of our heart He then creatively fulfills the desires of our heart. Click To Tweet
I was both surprised and thrilled when this woman responded positively. She completely understood my heart desire and felt honored to be asked. I don’t remember the last time I was so excited about something. I felt like I had received a delayed Christmas present!
My mentor, like me, is married to a man in ministry (hers is an army chaplain), has grown kids and ministers vocationally to women. She travels all over the world speaking at retreats and leadership conferences for Protestant Women of the Chapel (the military chapel’s women’s ministry organization) and yet also invests heavily in the dear women at her own PWOC here in Arizona.
This woman gets me. And I get her. My mentor travels the same path I do in so many ways. But she walks a little further ahead of me on the road, and she generously shares with me gems she has found along the way.A mentor helps you find the gems on your path, the ones you may have missed without her perspective. Click To Tweet
I’d love to tell you more about how our relationship works in my next post. I’ve told you why I sought out a mentor, but I’m going to show you why you just might want one, too.
Have you been privileged to have an older woman or two pour into you? How did that relationship start? Was it a formal arrangement or just something that happened over time? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
I’m linking up this week with Holley Gerth and other bloggers. Click the link below to find other encouraging blog posts.
I’m also linking up with the gals at Brenda’s Chasing Community Link-up. Enjoy!