There have been experiences in my life that I consider to be “landmark moments.” They are significant experiences that impacted me and caused me to vow to never forget them. I resolved to do or be something “different” as a result of what I experienced.
I have had several.
1. As a child growing up in a less than peaceful home, with parents who did the best they could with the knowledge they had, I distinctly remember the times I would run up the stairs to my room, slam the door, throw myself on the bed, and think, “When I grow up, I’m going to do things differently!”
At the end of the day, laying in bed … longing for a peaceful home.
“When I grow up, I am going to have a peaceful home. I’m going to do it differently.”
2. Sitting in a booth at Burger King, I looked at my mother and finally confessed to her. The night before, what they thought was an allergic reaction to pain medication, was actually my body rebelling after I had swallowed the entire bottle of pills at one time. She looked at me, stood up, walked to the car, and began to drive away. I ran toward the moving car, swung open the door, and jumped in. We drove home in silence.
The rest of that afternoon I sat in the basement by myself and waited. I knew there would be some kind of “discussion” when my father got home. That evening we sat in the living room, and I was given a short lecture about how selfish I had been, and not to do it again. That was it. My mother said nothing. It was never brought up again.
I was baffled. Their daughter had reached the point of hopelessness, and had attempted to take her own life, and that was it? No help? No comfort? No questions why? Nothing.
“When I have children, I will do it differently. I will not ignore my child’s cry for help!”
3. Getting ready to graduate from high school, I had a burning desire to attend a Christian college in hopes of preparing for some kind of full-time ministry. My parents said they couldn’t afford to send me, so I needed to get a full time job. They didn’t really care what I did as long as I got a job.
I worked part time as a waitress, part time at a thrift store, and I was miserable. I had no direction, I had unfulfilled desires and I believed the lie that there was no hope for me. I was doomed to a life of working, what I perceived to be, meaningless jobs. I believed that I was a hopeless misfit and I chose to swallow a bottle of pills.
I didn’t necessarily want to die. I wanted change. I needed guidance. I needed someone to say that there was more to life than this. That I would be OK. I needed someone to live life with me, to tell me I wasn’t a misfit, to offer me hope.
“When I am older I will be available. I will offer hope!”
4. Four years later I found myself on a Christian college campus. My dream had come true. But I lived with a fear that something would happen, and I would wake up and it would have all been a dream.
During those years I met a number of people who had a profound influence on my life. A roommate who was patient with me as I grew from a very immature, insecure, loud, flirtatious, young girl, to learning what it means to become a focused woman of God. Professors who would take the time to teach me how to study, and who made it their goal to see that I would succeed.
The dean of women who said to me, “One day you will write…”
The professor who told me, “One day you will speak..”
And of course, the man who would one day be my husband.
I was sitting on the hood of his car when he asked me if I would consider dating him. Up until that very moment, I had absolutely no idea he was interested in me. Mentally I had checked that possibility off my list. Brian was everything I had ever dreamed of or hoped for, but I was sure I was not good enough for a man of his character. We developed a friendship and I became resolved to the fact that a man like him would probably never be interested in me.
When he asked me to pray about whether or not we should begin a relationship, I was so shocked I almost fell right off the car and onto the pavement! Two years later we were married. Brian, with his godly family upbringing, and me with my resolve to do things “differently.”
I quickly discovered that the way I had grown up was more a part of who I was than I realized. I started down the road of repeating history. I was frustrated, scared, and defeated. Poor Brian wondered what he had gotten himself into.
We were finishing up our schooling and living in on-campus housing. A staff member’s wife made herself available and began to show me, and teach me, how to love a husband, children and others “differently.”
She began to show me what “differently” looked like. She gave her life away as she drew me into her circle and lived life in front of me. For about three years I had a front seat and was able to watch her as she loved her husband, her children and be a keeper at home. She did it in such an appealing way that it was used by God to create within me the desire to follow her Christ like example.
“You are precious!” She would say. “I’m so proud of you!” Words that lifted me. Words I had never heard before. Words that filled me with confidence and helped me to see that God had created me with giftings meant to bring Him glory.
“When I have children, I will make sure they know they are precious! I will tell them how proud I am of them!”
We moved, and I left the guidance of my first official mentor. I began the journey of parenting with lofty goals of “doing it differently.” With little outside guidance, and much judgment and resistance from family, I did what I thought was best. Reading all I could find, and praying for guidance. Never feeling quite adequate enough. Because there were so few older women who had the time to invest in the lives of younger women, I was slowly drawn into legalism. It was easier to follow rules. It gave me guidelines. It pulled me into groups of women who thought the same way, and gave me a sense of feeling accepted.
For awhile anyway …
In legalism, you only find acceptance until you mess up or decide to question the rules. Then you face condemnation and rejection.
With the help of a wise husband, I finally began to walk away from legalism. But that only left me alone again. Looking. Longing for someone older to take an interest in my life. To have time. They were lonely years, but years of learning. Praying for help. Depending on God. Searching the Scriptures to find out what my calling is, as a wife, mom, and mentor. So that one day I would be available. So I would do it differently. Years of preparation.
Years of observing others … and straining to see what “differently” should look like.
Finally, God has pulled us into a body of believers who love and live life with each other. Who mentor, and reach out, and seek to build into each other’s lives. The church mentoring the church–the way it was meant to be. And all that I have been learning over the years, and longing for, I can finally see being lived out right in front of me.
God is opening doors for me to share my burden. To share the need to give our lives away. My life’s journey has led to this. Writing. Living. Mentoring. Breathing it. Living it.
It has been more than 25 years since I have had a mentor, but my time spent with her changed me. I have never been the same. Although it has been a process of growth that I am still in, my time with this godly woman was what gave me the hope that there was a different way to live, and the excitement to learn how to live it. It’s what gave me the drive and desire to learn how to do for others what she did for me!
I look around and I see that I somehow have gotten to a point where I am available and living daily life with people. Even though I wasn’t sure what it would look like, God orchestrated my life so that I would be immersed in people. I am so thankful! He took the desire, the resolve, the willingness, and brought it to life.
All I needed was to be willing. He did the rest. He made it happen with four little words. They were faint at first, but became louder as my understanding grew. Four little words were the key to doing it differently.
Give. Your. Life. Away.