Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mothers & Mentors

I'm a HUGE Indiana Jones fan. Except for the last one they made...the one with Shia LeBouf?

Last Saturday we were watching "Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade"...the one with Sean Connery as Indy's dad. Love that one! Always makes me a little sad to watch River Phoenix in the first part...

Anyway, Indiana Jones and his dad have a really interesting relationship. There is one scene where they are arguing. Indy's dad asserts that he was a great father. Indiana strongly asserts "You were a terrible father!"
The father replies "Did I ever tell you to do your homework, brush your teeth or go to bed?"
"No!" replies the son.
Somehow, the father had missed it. He had treated his son like a grown up. Assuming he knew that he knew he needed to brush his teeth, do his homework and when to go to bed. He thought his son would appreciate not being told those things. But the reality was the son needed someone to tell him all of that! He wanted someone to tell him what to do, to be the grown up so he could be the kid.

I mean, I could overthink this scene like I do so many other things but the reality is that it is just a fascinating look into a parent/child relationship and really reveals some things about how differently people can see things. I think the fact that I struggle with the fact my parents weren't able to be the grown ups that I can appreciate this so much.

The girl I met from the Women's Home Wednesday had a similar story. Wednesday was set aside for delivering "thank you" gifts to the donors in the area. We were going to carry candles and fudge the girls and women had helped make to those who had supported Wellspring Living financially. Each staff person would have one of the ladies from the women's home to go with her. In my case, I actually ended up going with one of our development guys and one of the ladies. When I got there Paul (the development guy) was stuck in traffic and running late, so I had some time to meet the girl we'd be riding with...for the sake of not calling her "girl", "lady" or "woman" throughout this, I'll call her "Rachel". Rachel and I hit it off almost immediately. By the time Paul got there we were laughing together like two best friends and it wasn't long after we got in the car she declared us to be long lost sisters. This seemed feasible...my dad was a truck driver who "got around" and her mom has always had an attraction to men who were bad for her! I'm not going to tell all of her story because a) I don't have her permission and b) it isn't quite relevant to this particular posting.

She and I hit it off almost immediately because we had two very important things in common:
1) We both had parents who for whatever reason couldn't be the parent...we had-in fact-always been more the parent than the child.
2) We'd both been touched by a mentor in our lives.

One of the things Rachel said was "All of those mother/daughter things that I always said I didn't want to do...I've done most of them now." She wasn't just talking about the things like shopping but heart to heart talks and having a "mother figure" tell you something isn't a good idea. She's also talking about having a "Mom" that holds you when you cry. And a place to go for the holidays. She said her mentor offered to get her home for Christmas but she just couldn't handle it. She stammered "I want..." embarrassed to voice her hope and how her mentor finished for her "You know you are always welcome to come to our house and spend Christmas with us." Rachel was grateful...not only for the offer but for not having to ask. And she's really excited to spend Christmas with her mentor and her mentor's family. She's learning to be loved-unconditionally. To be a part of a family...and it doesn't matter it isn't a "biological" family.

I've been blessed with a woman like that in my life as well. Jane McAfee is more than just my supervisor at OM. She is my friend, confidant, mentor and "mother bear". I have grown so much as a person and a Christian knowing her. I have let myself be known-warts and all-and learned not to be afraid that she'd give up on me or just get fed up with me! She's encouraged me, held me accountable, and loved on me. And she gives some of the best hugs I've ever had. So much of who I am now and what I'm able to do, I owe to her. And I think she underestimates the impact and the level of gratitude...

I'm still sort of processing several things in this whole vein of mothers and mentors...and I think that a blog that included all of my recent musings would be too long. I think there are two take-aways I'd like for people to have from this though:

1) Be the parent that offers guidance to your kids. They need it. And I think it's perfectly okay to have a conversation with your kids that lets them know you try, that you don't always get it right, but its okay for them to let you know when or what they need.

2) Consider being a mentor in someone's life. For a kid, this could make a huge difference! If Rachel could have had someone speaking into her life earlier...it's possible she'd still made some of the same decisions...but statistics say it is far less likely. I know the impact teachers, coaches, etc made in my life. I know the impact the men who are willing to invest in a relationship with Trey make in his life. I'm fortunate enough to have a group of teenagers who come and hang out at my house on Wednesdays. I make sure they get to church and I make sure they get home. It's not a huge chunk of my time but we talk and build relationships during that time. They call me "Mom" and I like to think I've impacted their life for the better. There are new wives, young mothers, new husbands and dads trying to figure it out, new Christians needing discipleship...and of course, the women at the Wellspring Living Women's Home. Be that someone for someone!

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