Your love affair with your child begins the moment you hold that squirmy vernix-covered, beautiful being against your heart. Suddenly, you and your baby lock eyes— transfixed, while the rest of the world bustles about.
Nothing matters more at that moment than the life that you cradle. Your heart immediately transforms from a me-heart to a mom-heart, and you will view the world through a different lens from that moment on.
The “just had a baby honeymoon phase” soon comes to a screeching halt as life and motherhood compete for your time and attention. Balancing motherhood and life can be a daunting task, which some women do well while others are left feeling empty and lonely.
Sometimes the noble calling of motherhood requires insight from a seasoned mother who has tackled motherhood from toddlerhood to teens, someone to walk next to you as you blaze your trail through motherhood. A mentor is the one person who reminds you to take your child by the hand and go dance in a mud puddle instead of folding laundry.
What are the Makings of a Christian MENTOR?
Our congregations and communities are full of women who embody the right stuff to make a great mentor. These women have weathered life and have come out on the other side full of experience and perspective.
Mentoring is a ministry, and ministry is an investment. A mentor must first have the time to serve, which means that her children have probably left the nest. In the early days of my parenting, I often called on an older woman in our church for advice on marriage, child-rearing, or whatever bared down hard on me that particular day. Nothing beats listening to the voice of an older mom who understood my momentary plight.
2. Equipping, Encouraging, and Exhorting
A mentor not only brings experience to the relationship, she willingly equips young moms in the area of motherhood by offering prayer, help, and friendship.
Bringing experience to the relationship and offering to equip you emotionally, a mentor also imparts words of encouragement. Encouragement fortifies you as a mom. An experienced mom-mentor knows whether encouragement is befitting or if an exhortation is the required tactic.
As a newbie mom, I took my talent of multi-tasking to a crazed level. It took a lovely, older mom from church to tenderly point out (exhort) that while my endeavors served noble intentions, I risked missing out on those blissful moments of motherhood that often require a mom to be still and wait as they unfold. She imparted the golden nugget of advice that I cling to today even after decades of mothering and decades more to go.
A mentor balances teaching and modeling without enabling. She doesn’t do the work for you.
Paul Tripp defines redemptive relationships as “God daily gives us opportunities to serve the troubled, angry, discouraged, defeated, confused, and blind.” A mentor can empathize with the demands that motherhood brings and does so in a way that nurtures your walk with God. In times of trouble, she reminds you to focus on your vertical relationship with God; then, she directs you to the horizontal relationships that are right in front of you.
Ask her to tell you her story of struggling as a young mom and how God helped her through the difficult season. A worthy mentor makes God the hero at the end of the story.
I once thought I had the perfect mentor, and maybe she could have been, except she lacked time to engage in our relationship. We didn’t have the time to get to know one another. Mentors need time to ask the right questions, the time to listen, the time to reflect on your circumstances, and the time to pray for you.
5. One Another-ing
I am ashamed to admit, but there was a time in my life that if a mentor came along with bubblegum pink hair and piercings in all shapes and sizes, I would have run the other way. Spiritual maturity and experience have taught me otherwise. Profoundly, Rosaria Butterfield reminds us, “We may never know the treacherous journey people have taken to land in the pew next to us.”
Parable of The Shampoo Girl:
An older woman at the salon where I get my hair done is the shampoo girl. Her arms are decorated with half sleeve tattoos. Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words, this sweet lady wears a novel. I get up close and personal with her multiple piercings as she bends over to massage my scalp with her trance-inducing magical shampoo girl touch. The colorful tattoos coupled with her crimson lipstick set against her bleached white hair causes an introvert, run-of-the-mill mom like me to gulp for air. Shampoo-girl is a redemption story that unabashedly tells her story to anyone who reclines in her chair. Had I dismissed shampoo-girl based on first impressions, I might have missed out on a modern-day woman at the well. (Psst… if you haven’t read this story, click here for one of the greatest redemption stories ever told).
As you get to know your mentor, you will have the privilege of listening to her as she unpacks her beautiful redemption story. You might find yourself at Panera sitting across the table with a mentor like shampoo-girl. Because of her redemption story, she wants to unveil biblical truth and show you how to respond to it and apply it to your life.
As a busy mama, you might not have the time to investigate potential resources to equip you as a mom. More than likely, your mentor has bookshelves lined with gospel-saturated resources. She knows what works and what doesn’t work. Most importantly, she knows you and what you need. Your mentor knows if you need help in scheduling your day or if you need direction in digging deeper into scripture, or how to deal with a strong-willed child.
Don’t travel the motherhood road alone. Pray that God sends a mentor, whether she is the shampoo-girl sort or the seemingly ordinary sort, to embrace the relationship.
Share your mentoring stories with us. What insights has your mentor brought to your relationship?