I had no business being the oldest in my family. I was always expected to be the example for my younger siblings, but, as I grew into an adolescent and then into a young adult, I wondered, who was going to be the example for me. I had no idea what I was doing and having my mistakes continuously pointed out didn’t help.
Even though I felt unqualified to be the example, I kind of fell into the role naturally once I got to college. My college church had children’s missions groups I became involved with–Mission Friends for preschoolers, Girls in Action for elementary-aged girls, and Acteens for teenaged girls. That time was a precious time for me. The relationships I formed with the ladies I helped and with the girls were life-changing relationships, and all it took was making myself available to be a mentor. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know what I was doing. Just showing up was what mattered, and I gained far more than they did.
I continued this as I married and had children of my own–working in the nursery on Sundays and working with Mission Friends on Wednesdays. My privilege during those years was watching the other children grow up next to my own sons and sharing life experiences together. This quote from the author reminds me of those experiences. “The Bible challenges men and women to lead by example and also to teach and pour into those younger than they are, a few steps behind.” (100 Days to Brave, Annie F. Downs)
As with all things that are one-sided, I eventually burnt out on teaching and mentoring and everything else that was going on in that particular church. My husband and I left the church. They were willing to let us lead, teach, and participate, but when it actually came to mentoring us or being in authentic community with us, me in particular, not so much. We were too different. We didn’t have enough money, and we didn’t live in the right place. The curse of the Western church, I think, or the church in a wealthy area, at the very least.
We spent almost eight years outside of the church, most of our sons’ middle childhood. My husband mentored some younger people who worked for him, but, other than that, I concentrated on raising and homeschooling our sons once we started our homeschooling journey. I ached for some mentoring of my own, but the few people I had in my life who would have been willing lived a long way away. I had no one in my daily life to follow as an example. I was doing it on my own, following my own instincts.
It was during and after this time, when I came back to the church, that a long, dormant talent came back to me. I started writing again and began to fill journals with my thoughts, feelings, and inadequacies. There were more of the last one than there had been before because I had lived more of life. But, I also filled them with the faith that was beginning to re-blossom and the questions that were coming to mind because of that faith. I found it much easier to write in my journals and then in my blogs than I did to speak to people in person. Words didn’t take advantage of me like people could and reading back over the words gave me the guidance I was craving.
But, I looked over the words I just wrote and realized something was missing. While I was learning a lot from the letters I wrote to God and from the growing relationship I had with Him, it was missing something. Relationships with real people. Really? Those same real people who have discouraged me in my relationship with God now? Yes, those same people. While my inner psyche goes, ‘Ugh. Really, God? Sometimes, I don’t like people very much,’ He returns my comment with a touch of sarcasm, ‘And sometimes they don’t like you very much.’ Touche, I think. He has reminded me I’m just as human as other people are. A sobering reminder.
It brings up another question, however, one that is important to me. Will my writing matter? Why has God given me this talent to write if no one reads it? I don’t know if it will matter in the grand scheme of things. I don’t know if God has placed this on my heart to do while other, more important things are going on in His Kingdom. I only know that God has placed writing on my heart and that it is something I need to do. My hope is that people who read this after I’m gone will receive insight and wisdom–insight and wisdom they can take with them into their real-life relationships.
Praying God’s blessings on you all today!