The Your stories blogs are a place where women can bravely and authentically tell their story as it really is. We invite women to collide with Jesus and share how He is meeting them, transforming them and redeeming them. We hope this “your story” meets you in yours…
I usually keep this a big secret and don’t tell anyone new this, but I have to out myself: I have chronic illnesses. Not one, but four. Big deal, you might say, why keep that to yourself? Well…here’s one reason:
I want to be seen as an active person. Being an extrovert and strong type A personality, I’m someone who likes to be a do-er, to say yes, volunteer, sign-up, work an extra hour….you know the annoying type. They’re always on the go and get way more done than the average person. You may have noticed I said “likes to be” because that was the old me. Actually, that’s the me on the inside, but the outside me just won’t allow it. When those two are competing every day within the same body – having the desire to do but not the ability to do – it’s very, very frustrating. It makes me question much about myself and even God’s plan for how He wired me, yet not allowing me to use my gifts.
It was at a low emotional point (one of many) when I began to pick up the pace in asking God what His plan was in all this. Why create me to be active, then sideline me? It made no sense. At that time, my church began a ministry where volunteers would receive training, then “Walk alongside the hurting for as long as it takes.” My husband and a few friends urged me to sign up to have a shepherd, someone who could hear my frustrations, encourage me and make the emotional load a little lighter. It wasn’t long and I received a call from an upbeat, positive and sweet gal. She was the one I had hoped would call and we hit it off immediately. We took slow walks, talked on the phone and I listened as she talked about the issues in her life.
After a few months, our contact became less often and then I didn’t hear from her at all. After waiting an appropriate amount of me, I asked if she was okay and she said she quit calling me because she “didn’t know what to say.”
Thud went my heart. To hear that as a sad and lonely person….that hurt. I guess this isn’t something I can do, I thought. But God was about to answer my prayer in another way. That same week He urged me to go to a different church – just for that week. Okay…the church He picked was one I enjoyed, my husband was more than willing to go…so off we went. After the service, the coordinator for Collide’s mentoring program said, “You got my message!” Uh…what? I hadn’t received the phone message she left but I HAD heard from the Spirit so there I was with her, laughing as she said, “Well I have a girl who needs a mentor and you’re it!”
Within a week I sat down with a girl who was tailor-made to be my friend. We both love books, pizza, chocolate and coffee. We talk and talk and talk, and I love her so much. Later, another woman needed a mentor and I was more than happy to agree. We’re also a perfect match but for different reasons. The Lord knew we needed each other and our times together are sweet and rich.
And now I see how God really answered my prayers. I am more suited to be a mentor than to be mentored. Not that I can’t be mentored, but I am more comfortable listening, giving feedback, sending encouragement and checking in on someone than the other way around. It just feels like ME. And for someone who is ill and often feels like I can’t do much…this I can do!! The Lord has given me joy! And I feel more in tuned with my Savior who wept, mourned, listened, noticed, remembered and gave His life for His people.
When contemplating if this is something you can do, I hope you don’t think, “Oh, I couldn’t do that.” I know women are busy. I work and have kids, too. I fold laundry at 10:30 at night while the dishes wait in the sink. I ‘get’ busy. But when God opens your eyes to another’s pain and better yet, allows you the privilege of holding another woman’s story and using your own heart to bless hers – in simple ways, like listening over coffee or sending encouraging texts – how can we say no? At some point, we’ve all felt unheard, abandoned, disinterest. It hurts. At those times, I wished someone had put their arm around me and gently said, “Tell me about it.” And then I could enter a safe place to just be honest with my pain. Ladies, it’s beautiful. We all need it. We all deserve it. It’s what Jesus does for us…but sometimes he does so with skin on in the form of a friend.
His people, his women, are in desperate need. We may have cleaned-up outsides but we’re all broken. Sometimes our brokenness is the very thing that brings us to a place of healing. Because of mentoring, I feel awakened to the cries of the suffering around me and feel honored that He has chosen me to be an instrument of peace. Me – the one who looks fine but isn’t; me – the one who thought I couldn’t do much, but is; me – the one who is equipped by a generous Jesus and is dancing on the inside.
Are you interested in walking alongside another woman by becoming a mentor? Email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the Collide Mentoring Program!