Being Shepherded to Become a Shepherd

“Latte?” she texts me as I speed to her house. I am delayed, again. It’s a good thing she once lived in Central America. She has a similar feeling about time as I do.

I wait till I am at a stoplight and respond, “Yes!”

I am not a coffee drinker, but my lattes with her became a tradition when she and her husband got an espresso machine. The only time I drink a decaf latte is at her house. Since they refer to themselves as “coffee snobs,” I know I am getting the best latte around.

But I don’t choose to visit her for the latte.

It started out as an invitation. She wanted to have a mentoring relationship with me, yet I was hesitant. I met with counselors before, and it was helpful to have someone to bounce ideas off of and share my heart with. I struggled with the professionalism, when what I really needed was a friend.

She asked me if I would like to meet regularly, and our mentorship began with me being the youngest in her Sunday school class. Then she invited me to her house to talk. From there, our relationship easily and organically grew.

We’ve met in her living room, her son’s old room, a restaurant, over Skype, in a country we both once called home, over the phone, at church after Sunday school, and sometimes accompanied by my children.

Though the places have changed, the layout of the meeting is fairly similar: we sit for small talk and then pray, inviting the King of the universe to join with us in conversation. After prayer, we dig in to the meat. What is going on in my life? What is God teaching me? Where am I struggling? How can I look at situations differently?

The discussions have been different over the years. I have cried many tears, using up more tissues than I can count, while she provided the conversation and the tissue boxes. There are times when I do more talking, times when she does the talking, and times when God fills in the gaps.

Above all, our relationship is an environment of grace.

My favorite thing about her is she doesn’t leave me where I’m at. She shepherds me, directing my eyes to Him and correcting my wrong thinking. She is willing to “go there” with me. She has seen the ugly in me and brought beauty out of it.

My friend sees me with His eyes. She looks at me and tells me who I am, and honestly, there are moments I don’t believe her. I question myself, her words, and their context. It has taken time and the words of my Father to convince me of their accuracy.

Her ability to see, talk and pursue has changed me, and the relationship I have with her has allowed me to become more of who I am meant to be.

The path we took to arrive in Belize was full of twists and turns. In the midst of the unknown, she walked with me. Now that we are here, she challenges me from afar.

What is the more I am called to? Who was I meant to be here?

It is that grace, beauty, and encouragement that allow me to be who I am.

Recently, when we finish our skype sessions, I gulp the last of my tea and stand. The empowerment she offers allows me to walk into the situations I now face here in Belize. Due to her invitation 10 years ago, I am here — and equipped — to empower and shepherd others.

Have you had someone like this in your life?  How have others shepherding you allowed you to become who you were called to?

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