We’re all following somebody’s example. We all look to somebody to figure out how the heck we are supposed to survive in this big, crazy world, and we are all influenced in one way or another by those closest to us.. Whether it’s your friends, your dad, your older siblings, a teacher, your pastor, or .. your drug dealer- you have a mentor.
A little while back I read this memoir, The Other Wes Moore – One Name, Two Fates.
After much reflection, Wes Moore came to the conclusion that not one decision or factor determined the extremely different fates of these two boys. Although they were both named Wes Moore, around the same age, same race and both from the same social class in Baltimore, one ended up with a life sentence in prison while the other worked his way through university, was a businessman and dedicated much of his time to the needs of others.
The most substantial difference was the mentors in their lives.
Throughout high school, I lacked solid women or even men to look up to. My party friends and ex-meth addict boyfriend were, unfortunately, my main influences.
Then came Madison. The first night I met her she had piercings everywhere, tattoos, and I’m pretty sure her hair was purple at the time. Turned out, she was a Younglife leader, and she was there to mentor punk-ass skanky little stoners, such as myself.
Now looking back, I would say she was the first and most influential Christian woman that had made the effort to make a difference in my life.
She talked about the hard stuff with me, the stuff that mattered. The stuff that likely changed the very course of my life. I still think about conversations we had and the times she challenged me to step it up.
In a story, a character doesn’t just change. Something significant has to happen. Somebody has to enter the scene or an event has to occur. This forces the character and their life to be changed. If they continued on as they were there wouldn’t really be a story to tell, or it would be a pretty lame one. This is what Donald Miller calls: An explosion.
A couple years back, there was an explosion in my story:
My best friend got pregnant.
My druggy boyfriend cheated on me.
I was literally failing school.
My other two friends were getting into hard drugs and writing stories I knew I didn’t want to end up living as well.
I struggled with myself and the words that Madison had shared with me the year before about having to possibly leave behind friends or family or even a lifestyle in order to write myself into the story I desired. I knew she believed in me to do the hard things, the right things. I knew if nobody else did, she would have my back.
Apparently, she mentored me pretty well because I ended up signing up for the mentorship program in Costa Rica.
When my older brother went through it, he was immediately healed of drug addiction and even experienced physical healing that surgery hadn’t fixed in the past. Even more than that, he had found something greater than himself – a purpose, peace, God.
When I saw the story he was writing, I wanted mine to be like that too. So, in the midst of my fear and doubt, I signed my soul away to 5 months of sobriety and service.
Then came Maaike. Maaike was my next mentor. She is one of those people who make you want to be the absolute best person you can be in every way. She walked me through being a selfish 17-year-old with a lot of hurt and insecurity into who I am today.
Although still sometimes selfish and insecure, I now get to be that mentor for my friends, cousins, and the girls who find their way here to Youth With A Mission in Costa Rica.
Who are your mentors? Are they the people who you want to become like, who you would want your sisters or daughters to become like? What kind of mentor are you and to who?
I heard somebody say once that we need 3 types of people in our lives.
Somebody ahead of us to guide us,
Somebody beside us to walk with us,
Somebody behind us to raise up as the next generation of mentors.
First of all, if there isn’t somebody in your life who you want to become like, go find that person. It may take time to build a trusted relationship, but it’s worth the effort. Secondly, be the mentor you wish you would have had growing up, and talk about the things you wish somebody would have talked to you about. Lastly, walk with those beside you as you both learn from one another and be the type of friend we all need.