Thursday, August 28, 2014

Women Mentoring other Women and Why it is an Absolute Necessity

Recently I responded to a group question from Holley Armstrong Gerth, a popular Christian author, speaker and blogger.  Her question was "What is the biggest need you see in women's ministry today?'  My response was that I'd love to see older women mentoring younger women because I feel it's so nice to hear their wisdom born of years of living through things I am currently in the midst of and to garner from their faith as well.

I was specifically thinking of how much I would love to have an older more experienced mom to bounce things off of and to remind me that I'm going to make it through these teenage and early adulthood years of parenting.  I need a spiritual mentor as well.

 I watched my response to Holley's question get many likes and start many conversations about the need for mentoring.

I'm going to be honest about something.  I have not made a lot of friends in the 5 years we have lived in this state.  Some of that is due to me having been isolated at home with young twins.  Some of that is our life situation demanding that our children be our focus at this point in time.  That is our #1 priority and we love it.  Some of it is that I still miss my old friends, the ones who have known me since I was a young mom and have been there through thick and thin,  The friends I do have here are parents of my teenage children's friends.

I have purposefully avoided developing friendships with young moms, especially if their oldest is the same age as my youngest. I'm not sure they can relate to any of my struggles and I have a hard time fully empathizing with their current concerns because I don't want to be a "Debby Downer" and minimize their issues by saying "Oh honey, you just wait, it gets worse." I also feel very alone and dare I say judged by younger moms.  I've heard more times than I care to hear that when their child is that age they won't let their child act that way, or go there or do that.

I was once one of those moms who made those very same statements.  I am feeling very convicted by the Lord to seek out younger moms and minister to them.  I can feel the incredible selfishness of my initial statement that I could use a mentor.  Not because I don't need a mentor, I do, but because I wish I were more selfless and thought more of others first rather than thinking of myself.  My husband often tells me that his life "is not about me, but Him".  I admire that very much.  I hear God gently nudging me to remember that it is not about me, it's about Him and furthering the kingdom one friendship, one example, one non-judgement, one listening ear and one encouragement at a time.

Generally speaking, helping others, especially those who are hurting comes very naturally to me.  I have mentored many teenage and young adult women over the years.  My husband and I used to be marriage mentors.  Life seemed easier back then.  I didn't think I had all the answers, but I hadn't yet lived through real pain within my own family.  I have now and it makes me feel unworthy. So I ask myself what makes me feel so unworthy?  That I have faced trials and although I have experience, I am both broken and stronger like a bone that has healed?  Good!  What is it that makes me so afraid to nurture other moms?  It is that I would be vulnerable and have to share that neither myself, my marriage nor my children are perfect? Yes.  Do I think this may be refreshing for others to hear so they don't feel so alone? Yes.

I am going to leave my insecurities behind and ask the Lord to use me to encourage and cheer on younger moms.  Are you in need of a mentor?

If you are an experienced mama, I urge you to find a younger mom and make it your own personal ministry to mentor her.  I can't imagine that you would be turned down if you offered.  You might be surprised by the number of women who would jump at the change to be mentored.  My hope is that women mentoring other women would grow and every woman would have a more experienced person in their life to walk alongside them and fill them with hope for the future and contentment that whoever they are, they are enough!


Melissa R said...

Gina, your timing with this is perfect. Just yesterday I was talking with someone about being a mentor. In this case it wouldn't be (necessarily) to a younger mom, but to a woman who's a new Christian. Same idea, though: to encourage and help someone who's just not as far along the path as we are.

White Lace and Promises said...

Gina, you know what I think. I think we all long for community and it's the one thing that is missing in our lives today. In my parents' day, they had immediate family, aunts, grandmothers, neighbors who all shared together. It's not like that now and we are often isolated. It breaks my heart to hear this story. Sad thing is that I feel a call to other women and am not allowed or encouraged to do it in the church that I belong to. It's sad. I would be a mentor to you. Would love to be. Have been through those years and made it by God's grace, but I asked to never let me forget what each stage of parenting was like so that may help others. Hang in there and pray alot! You will make it and so will they. Love you, girl. I love your vuneralbility and your willingness to keep it real!

Ashley @ Hello nature said...

I'm not a mom yet, but I love this idea! I would so appreciate having someone I can talk to about the issues I run into as a first time mom.

Lani Derrick said...

SO important! I just joined a MOPs group and an excited to get to know my mentor mom!

Lana said...

I think we all could learn a lot from each other if we'd take the time to listen. It's so hard to do that sometimes.

Jess Schleicher said...

I love bouncing ideas off of other moms... especially the ones who's kids are older than mine and have been there/done that. It's nice to have people that can guide you with what's going on and help with issues that may come up.

Hannah J said...

I’m 28, for a long time I didn’t fit in at church, I was too old for the student group, I didn’t fit with the younger mums as for the last 3 isn years I was a foster Mum to a teenager and then I didn’t fit with the parents of teenagers because I was too young. Now I’m a mum to a 9 week old and a foster mum to a teenager I do sort of fit a little more but still not snuggly.

Our church has recently changed it’s name and therefore gone through a chunk of rebranding. A friend of mine who actually was my youth leader at a different church about 15 years ago(!) set up a women’s group. We are all women together rather than segregated by our age status or status as Mothers or not mothers as the case may be. It’s a lovely group. I’m one of the youngest and I think my friend M is the oldest although she’s a bit like my Grandma was in the way she’s like a teenager stuck in an old lady’s body hehe.

Admittedly I do struggle to get on with the younger Mums that are my age. Either side of Jaxon there is a little boy and a little girl, both were born to single parent families - whereas I’m in a happy marriage (okay we have our bad days but I’m hoping you catch my drift). We can all relate to each other as mums but my experience is clearly different to their experiences. It’s also tough as one of those two children has been removed and placed with a foster family :(

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