Make a Life that Matters
It’s hard to believe it, but we’ve just passed the one-year mark here at our ‘new’ home in the DFW metroplex. We found a church home, and this fall it was time to get back to serving again. Both of us wanted to get involved in ministries outside church walls. Don chose working in the repair shop of a ministry-based thrift store, and so far so good. He goes in once a week, fixes tables and bookcases and blenders and such, after which they are sold in the store, and the proceeds go to all sorts of good causes. It’s a great fit for him, and just last week he told me to go check out a table they had for sale. $40 later it’s sitting in the corner of our living room, and I love it all the more for where it came from.
I chose mentoring young women who have just come out of a program that helps prepare them for life. Some have been in prison, some were homeless, some have been trapped in poverty, some were mothers before they grew up, but all are trying to improve their lives. I went to a ceremony a few weeks back, where the women graduated from the program, and I met the young mom I’ll be getting together with for the next six to nine months.
At our first sweet meeting, she asked me, ‘so what is a mentor? Are you here to be my friend?’ I LOVE that a twenty-something was so gracious as to ask an almost-sixty year old, grey haired lady if we were supposed to be friends.
I told her I hoped we would be friends, but mostly I was there as someone who’s already walked a little further along the paths of life. As we get to know each other better I can help guide her along the way by sharing what I’ve learned when I failed miserably or finished well.
Last week we met for the first time, and I listened to her story. Where she’s been, where she is now, what hard things she’s dealing with, and what she dreams her future looks like, six months from now, a year from now, five years from now.
If you want to have fun, ask someone to dream out loud! I did, and her hopes and dreams and fears were flying through the air so fast I was having trouble keeping up with them all. When I shared that with her she told me, “me too! I feel like I have so much going on in my head I can’t keep track of it all.”
So here was, at least as I see it, the biggest, most important, rare gem of immense wisdom I shared with her that day.
Buy a five-tab, spiral notebook. Go wild and pick one with a cute cover, but buy one today.
I told her what to write on each tab. The first four labels are areas of life she wants to work on, and the last one will have my name. Behind each tab, on the first sheet of paper, she’ll scribble some general goals for each area, and then brainstorm whatever she’s thinking about in that area. Behind the ‘Bev’ tab she’ll jot down anything she wants to remember to tell me, ask me, talk with me about. When we meet for lunch in a few weeks she’ll bring the notebook and we’ll look at the pages together. From there we’ll work to set some specific goals for her to work toward, and come up with concrete ways to get from here to there.
It wasn’t rocket-science, just what struck me, off the top of my head. For the cost of a few bucks, she’ll hopefully feel more in control of her life; she’ll be able to see dreams and goals written down, and fears and problems, situations avoided to date, now faced straight on.
Not only do I look forward to seeing what she comes up in the next month, I’m hoping someday she’ll take this book down from the shelf and be able to look back to a time when she was working so hard to get her life together, and a five-tab, spiral notebook was a visible sign of her faith in the future. It’s scary to dream if you’ve never done it before. I know. I remember.
If you’re reading this, and checking out because you think you don’t have anything to share with anyone, it's not so! Young women today are desperately asking for mentors who are willing to invest in them. Even if you feel like much of your life has been spent making mistakes, that’s a valuable thing to share with someone who feels like they are the only one out there floundering. Maybe there’s a young woman, in your church or neighborhood, who could use a friend who was willing to spend time with them. Take a cooking class with them, or open a cookbook together (that might be fun!) do a Bible study together, start walking a few mornings a week just to talk, and/or pray. Bounce the baby for her, while you talk about how hard you struggled with learning to parent. Maybe you’re good at household budgeting, and could teach her how to set one up, and stick to it.
If you’re over 40 and wondering what you could be doing with your life at this point, scripture spells it out for us:
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 urge 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
And if you’re thinking 40 isn’t ‘older woman’ it isn’t compared to me, but it is to a twenty-something who’s been married less than five years, and could use a helping hand.
I remember a story of a little boy with a sack lunch of some fish and pieces of bread, and when Jesus was done with it, it had fed the multitudes. Surely God can still today use us, whether it’s to teach a young mom to hang wallpaper (thank you Tris), study the Bible (thank you Deone) clean a house (thank you Claire) set a pretty table (thank you Karen) hold a friend’s trust (thank you Bettie) or be a real friend (thank you Cathy and Robin), or maybe you just suggest they buy a five tab, spiral notebook and start jotting down what’s on their heart.
If you want to hear more about mentoring, or need some yourself, I so love the heart of this woman. She does a post most Mondays on the subject of mentoring, and I promise you'll be blessed to read what's on her heart. I still learn so much from her myself, and am thankful for all she's shared with my own two daughters.