Antique Friends, Faith

The Mentor

Way back in 2000, AD and I had just moved to the home we live in now.  At that time, we were doing a lot of church hopping in an effort to try and figure out where to park it on Sunday’s.

To make a short story long, also at the time I was taking a seminary course on the Gospel of Luke from a friend of ours who is a professor of theology at one of the southern Christian colleges.  The class was comprised of eight or ten young men hoping to become preachers. And me. Not hoping to become a preacher. I was just there in my never ending quest for knowledge and something fun to do. I know.  Knowing that makes you want to party with me, doesn’t it?

One day, a particularly handsome young man with a terrific smile turned around and asked me where I attended church.  He was the first and only of my classmates to acknowledge my presence.  “You know,” I said, “That is a really good question.”  And then I told him we had just moved to the area and that we weren’t settled anywhere.  He invited me to his church where he was the youth minister and several Sunday’s later, we went.  At the time, this was a church without a church. It was basically a bunch of folks meeting in an office building and that was wildly appealing to us because we are renegades and offbeat.

As we made our way to the door of the cafeteria where the believers assembled, I was greeted by a tall silver haired woman with piercing dark eyes.  There was something about her presence that was all business but at the same time oozed a sense of fun and ornery.  As she handed me a bulletin, she looked me in the eye and introduced herself. She had a charming west Texas accent.  Her name was Glenna.  She said she didn’t believe she had seen me before and asked about me.  As we talked briefly, she blocked out the buzz and flurry that happens before a church service and focused completely on me. In the short space of time that we spoke, I knew that I had found a friend. I didn’t know yet that I had found a mentor.

Since that Sunday, Glenna has been my friend when I needed it, my mother when I needed it, my sister when I needed it, my babysitter when I needed it.  She has brought me meals, she has prayed for me, she has cried for me, she has listened to me, she has defended me, she has comforted me and she has made me laugh.  She has given me advice when I needed it and not given me advice when I needed it but didn’t want it.  She has encouraged me when I needed it and she has called me out when I needed it. I don’t think I’ve ever asked something of her that she said no.  Every woman needs a Glenna — a mentor, another woman to guide and nurture her in a way that girlfriends and mothers can’t.

I didn’t go looking for a mentor that day, but I sorely needed one.

A lot has happened since that day in 2000 and Glenna has been with me the whole way.  Glenna and her husband Skip continue to mentor AD and me in so many ways – especially in our faith and in our parenting.  But beyond that, they mentor us in the example of their lives. In their every day walking around lives, they are Christ to everyone they see, everywhere they go, every day.  And that not only mentors us, it inspires us.

* * * * *

Do you have a mentor? If so, how did that come about?

36 thoughts on “The Mentor

  1. I’m a bit envious. Where do you find one of those? Oh wait, you don’t know either, because she found you. Sigh.

    * * *
    That there is the zillion dollar question. I don’t know who found whom; it really seems to be a divinely orchestrated match of people, place and time. Or a “God thing” as many like to say.

    I was talking to a friend about this recently and mentioned to her that the way many churches box up people by demographic impedes the natural pairing of mentors (usually older) to those who need them (usually younger). The natural outflow of a more mixed body would be more mentoring. Or so it seems to me.

  2. I have no overall mentors, but I consider myself lucky (blessed?) to have been introduced to a writing mentor just as I was starting the book. Jeff’s very smart, he’s deeply wise and he has the most wonderful habit of shrugging and saying “Just keep writing and don’t pay attention to the other stuff.” The other stuff, of course, is all the Starring-Quinn-in-her-own-amazing-drama stuff I can create when I want to do anything but be here now, working. It doesn’t hurt that his much-adored wife owns a bakery here in Los Angeles and I can usually arrange for us to meet there. Council and cupcakes, doesn’t get much better than that.

    I’d like a Glenna in my life but not if I had to give up my Jeff to get her.

    * * *
    I would like to have a Jeff. Or a writing mentor. Can you be “assigned” a mentor? I don’t think so.

  3. My mentor is the one that led me to your blog. Besides my own mother and grandmother, she is the woman who has had the biggest impact on my life–the kind of wife I am–the kind of mother I am. She has been never-endingly patient with me, and that has taken a lot since she met me when I was an 18 year old freshman in college. Her name is Carolyn. She is an amazement. I tell her that a lot, and now I get to tell you!

  4. I just read the first comment and your reply, and I think one BIG thing in finding a mentor is being willing to BE mentored. . .to look at someone and realize that they have the age and wisdom to teach us a thing or two–then to be willing to listen and learn.

    * * * *
    Having a teachable spirit makes life much easier. Maddeningly enough, I have it for some people and not for others. (Sorry Mom. It’s not personal.)

  5. I got my writing mentor because when I got my book contract kind of lost my mind over the magnitude of it. My friend Mary watched me flop around like a fish on the back of a boat. Psychically, I mean; I was exhausting to be around, but not that much.So she introduced me to Jeff and Jeff decided for reasons known only to him to be my support and the book got written. And people are sincerely thanked in the acknowledgments.

    * * *
    I tip my hat to Jeff because your book is in fact, awesome. And I think Mary is a mentor of sorts having brokered the connection for you. I say you owe them both big time.

  6. I wish I could say yes. I know I’ve looked in the past, but I think the best mentor relationships are born not arranged, or even sought out. You’re right about the age and stage segregation of most churches limiting mentoring opportunities. My mom’s church has a specific Mary/Elizabeth program where they put women together in that way, but that’s an exception I think.

    I’ve also found that many women who could serve as mentors don’t see themselves as such, so it can be hard to get the relationship going even if you identify that spark in someone. I’m probably on the cusp of crossing the threshold from the one category to the other; I guess I’ll have to make sure that I’m available if the opportunity arises.

  7. i’ve been thinking about this a bit lately… whether I can ask someone to mentor me, though I’m not sure who.

    Been studying it (mentoring) in my quiet times recently.

    * * *
    I think mentor relationships sort of happens over time and is not a matter of asking or not asking. Also, consider if there might be a younger gal that you could begin mentoring. If you are only in your 20s, she might be a tween.

  8. I met an angel once. Her name was Glenna. I married her.

    I’m not very smart, but God watches over me.

    The writer of Proverbs seems to have had Glenna in mind when he wrote chapter 31:10-31:

    Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:

    “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”

  9. I do–we’ve only recently started menting, but it’s something I sorely need. When I (very recently) finally stopped running from God and faced Jesus and admitted that yes, I do need Him in my life and I’ve been doing a horrible job of trying to run it on my own, my wonderful mother asked if I would be interested in meeting a friend of hers. We met, the three of us, for Mexican, and when we walked out of the restaurant Heather and I exchanged numbers and arranged to meet. She is about my mother’s age, very wise and very young at heart, with a difficult background that means she really does understand what it means to be down in the pit with nowhere else to turn but Jesus. She is wonderful at encouraging me and also challenging me. I am still getting to know her, but I am so grateful that my mother (who mentors quite a few young women herself) recognized in her the sort of person who would be a blessing for me.

  10. Not really a common thing here, as far as I can tell. I get very odd looks if I ever mention it. Praying that there is someone there for me though, and that I might be there for someone too.

  11. I don’t, but I have longed for and prayed for one. I have had people at certain times in my life who have acted as a short term mentor/friend and one dear, dear friend who has seen me through most of my life, but I have ofter wished for an older, wiser, spiritual woman who would help me through some difficult times, rejoice with me when the times aren’t difficult, and love me still when I’m boring. Can I borrow Glenna?

  12. We’ve moved so much that it is hard to establish those kind of relationships. But now that we are a little more settled (crossing my fingers on this one) I need to start looking for someone to be pouring myself into and then maybe a mentor will find me as well.

  13. I would party with you because I, too, would love to be in a class like that just to glean the knowledge! I had been in the process of applying to seminary when my husband lost his job 2 months ago.

    I think what you said is a good reason why it’s so hard to pair up women in a mentoring relationship. I think mentoring happens naturally when God brings people together in a divine appointment. I’ve had various women mentor me in different ways that I’ve appreciated, but none that have been long term. You are indeed blessed to have Glenna in your life.

  14. No, sadly I have no such mentor but it’s absolutely wonderful that you do!

    I suppose if I were to put any effort into it, my mother’s friend who cared for her in her last days would be such a mentor.
    I think she would love to be that but I have yet to open my heart to her. I’m afraid of it getting crushed somehow, out in the open.

    * * *
    Oh I hope you won’t let that stop you from either being mentored to being open to being a mentor. Life is heartbreaking in all it’s many facets in one way or another every day. It just is. But to turn away from the possibility of experiencing something wonderful is the most heartbreaking of all.

  15. I don’t have one, but right now I have great friends walking through all these things with me. I hope that one day I can be a “mentor” or be there for someone else…that’s what gets me through each day! would love more stories about your mentor 🙂

  16. My mentor doesn’t live near me geographically. She’s my age and we’ve been friends since high school when I moved to her town. She’s been there for me emotionally and spiritually, physically when needed, when we could arrange it. My mentor Brenda is my best friend, spiritual advisor, “preacher,” consoler, listener, director, soul mate. The only thing that could be any better is if we did live in the same town!

    * * * *
    Those kinds of relationships easily span time and distance.

  17. The great mentor in my life would have to be my own mother. What a wonderful example of everything she was. After her passing, my older sister took over has my mentor. If I could aspire to be half the woman they are/were then I would be an asset to humanity as they were/are.

  18. Your description of Glenna was perfect. I recognized the “tall silver haired woman with piercing dark eyes” right away.
    I would say that Glenna is also a mentor to Ruthie, who is a mentor to me. I quote them both on occasion.

    * * *
    I would consider Ruthie a mentor as well. I might have never bathed Sean when he was an infant if she hadn’t come over and made me the first time. She busts my chops when I need it.

  19. The most powerful words of your blog today- your comment to a comment:

    “Life is heartbreaking in all it’s many facets in one way or another every day. It just is. But to turn away from the possibility of experiencing something wonderful is the most heartbreaking of all.”

  20. I have had quite a few mentors because I moved around alot.

    My favorite is Kathy. She and her family lived across the street from me when I lived in Taiwan. She is about 10 years older than I.

    What’s scary is when you get old enough and realize that you should be the one who is the mentor!!!! I hope someone feels that I am worthy of being a mentor.

  21. I’ve wanted a mentor for the longest time and used to pray for one. But it just never happened. Maybe my introverted melancholy personality doesn’t lend itself to such a thing since I don’t go out of my way to meet people. And being at a new church, expecting a baby, and working at a demanding full-time job doesn’t make that easy, anyway. But I’m still hopeful.

    * * *
    I don’t think that not being an extrovert should preclude you from finding a mentor or a mentor finding you – or at least I hope not, although I understand what you are saying. I myself don’t exactly light up a room. If ever there was a time in a woman’s life when she needs a mentor, it’s during pregnancy and those first few months of motherhood. You have your plate full. I hope your church folk will step up.

  22. Actually, AM, you can be assigned a writing mentor. The question is whether or not you want one for free. 🙂 I’d be happy to give you more info. (And there’s nothing in it for me. 🙂

  23. I don’t. But I really, really wish I did. I’ve had a hard time finding someone who was “all that” to me.
    I try to find bits of mentoring from everyone I know. Some are good at encouraging and some are good at listening. I have “it’s no big deal” friends and “let’s focus on the details” friends. You get the idea.
    My personality needs a little bit of everything and I think everyone has a special characteristic to share.

    Also, I know I can’t be everything to everyone and I’ve learned to stop trying.

  24. “..first and only .. to acknowledge your presence”!?! And these were preachers in training??!

    Yay for fabulous mentors, they make a HUGE difference.
    I don’t have one, wish I did, trying to make sure my girls have some along their way.

    * * * *
    You would have thought I had cooties and they had not gotten their cooties shots. 😉

  25. I’m struck, after reading the comments, at how many people don’t have mentors, but wish they did. I have been so blessed to have Jean in my life. We’re close in age, but she’s got seven children and decades of mothering experience behind her, and an amazing heart. She’s also bold and not afraid to be direct, yet at the same time she is compassionate and doesn’t pass judgment. I also realize, while reading, that I’d like to offer myself as a mentor to others, but for some reason, I have not stepped up consistently. It’s easy to always think someone else “has it together” more together.” This post helps me focus on some of the qualities I’d like to develop in myself so that maybe I can pass on some of the love that Jean has so freely given to me. Thanks, AM!!

  26. Now that I read this, I think that there is a friend of mine in my Sunday School class who I do look up to like a mentor. She’s only a few years older than me but she has the most beautiful Christian heart. When I have some problem (like praying about how to tell my son that his Gramma lives in heaven now) I immediately think of her and how she might handle the situation. Maybe I should let her know how much she means to me…

  27. I didn’t read all of the comments but I can relate to the conversation you had with Roxanne up there near the top. “You have to be willing to be mentored” but I think more often we don’t know that we need it and God places that person in our lives at the right time. We also need to be willing to be the mentor. This, I have found happens when you least expect it.

  28. I need a mentor. My mother died when I was 37 and in the middle of having my children. I still have 6 at home, but as they leave (and I turn 50) I know I should be thankful for the opportunity to age, but I’m not quite sure how to handle it! It would be nice to have someone to say, “Yes, your children are your greatest treasure, but here is what is next . . . “

  29. 52, on the mission field, would love to have one, please ask God to send one my way :-0)
    I understand you recently visited my home church and spoke to the mom’s group… interesting since I have been reading your blog since I came on the field. Small world.

  30. This is a beautiful post. I have been blessed to have a mentor, unexpected, out of the blue and so, so appreciated. I didn’t know how much I needed her until I met her! We were co-workers in a music publishing company. Although we both have different jobs now, we stay in touch. Her name is Anita and when I think of commitment to living one’s faith every day, I think of her.

    I am curious what happened to the young man who invited you to that church? Do you know if he did become a minister?

  31. I had a wonderful mentor at my church in Fargo before we moved here. Our current church, though we love the preaching, has virtually no community unless you’ve been there for 10+ years. I keep hoping…

  32. I am blessed enough to call Glenna “Mom” and I could write a book about her wisdom, graciousness, humor, diligence, and love. But since I haven’t, thank you AM for putting pen to paper about the amazingness that is my mother. Not a day goes by that I don’t do, think on, or say something I’ve been taught by her.

  33. I loved this post and the comments are fascinating to read. My Mom has been my mentor in some areas and other women have mentored me as well along the way. I think sometimes the process is subtle and we might not even realize we are mentoring or being mentored.
    Do all the good you can
    By all the means you can
    In all the ways you can
    In all the places you can
    To all the people you can
    As long as ever you can
    ~ John Wesley

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