Embracing my Need for Mentorship {The Grove: Aging}

I would like to say that I begged my lucky stars to keep this birthday from coming, but the truth is that I’m more than ready to be 30.

There’s nothing special about the big 3-0 I suppose. And some of you are going to laugh your way through this post. Perhaps I’ll laugh, too, when I’m older and wiser.

But entering this new decade of life is significant for me, and I’m so incredibly hungry for it. Probably because my twenties felt like one boxing match of emotions over and over and over again.

Brand new to the workforce. Brand new to marriage. Brand new to motherhood. Brand new to working overseas. Brand new to grad school. Brand new to adoption.

NEWNEWNEWNEWNEWNEWNEW.

None of you told me that living through my twenties would be equal to a perpetual first day of freshman year of high school. That the older, cooler gals would know the tricks, but that I would be doing my dead-level best to keep from tripping over my own feet. While juggling a new job and a new marriage and a new baby and a new house and a new EVERYTHING.

I blame y’all. I BLAME ALL Y’ALL.

Just kidding.

I’m not writing this post to commiserate about my 20s. I really have so much to celebrate from the last ten years. The ‘firsts’ are beautiful and joy-filled, too! (Though if you’re fresh out of college this is my fair warning that you may be getting ready to be knocked around for a while.)

—–

I remember sitting with an older lady after worship one night, feeling drained from a marriage where my husband was working 100+ hours a week and I was carrying myself spiritually.

What do I do? I asked. How do I get him to lead me?

She didn’t jump on my side, or make a dig at my husband. She didn’t feel sorry for me or puff me up.

You pray, she said. And that was it.

—–

I remember being new to the work abroad. I was loading all kinds of comparison on my shoulders and carrying unnecessary expectations from others. So I called up a mentor.

What do I do? I asked. How do learn to be satisfied with myself?

She breathed some life into my deflated sails. She spoke truth to blot out some of the lies I’d been believing.

Go back to Scripture, she said. Come back when you see how God views women in the Bible.

—–

I remember attending a retreat with other adoptive moms. Exhausted. Feeling helpless. Wondering if I was totally screwing up my kids.

What do I do? I asked. How do I raise these children?

And they cried with me and nodded their heads and made sure I knew that everything I was experiencing was totally normal in the attachment process.

Be reminded, they said, that your Father adopted you long before you adopted this child.

—–

What I’ve learned from my recent past is I need women.

Especially those of you who are…ahem…aging. Like, ahead of me.

I need you pretty much exactly like Titus 2:3-5.

Because there are times when I’m losing it on my husband and I need you to teach me to be patient.

There are times I’m losing it on my kids and I need you to teach me to pray.

There are times I’m losing it on this culture and I need you to teach me to persist.

There are times I’m losing it on my work and I need you to teach me to let go.

There are times I’m losing it on my weaknesses and I need you to pick me up, dust me off, tell me to get a grip, slap me around a bit, give me an encouraging word, speak some truth into me, and send me on my way.

Warmed and filled. Preferably with a dose of Scripture.

And a big piece of chocolate cake.

Your life experiences are rich, and I know you get it. So I need you, gals 30+.

And for you gals under 30, I’m committed to you, too. I can’t promise the chocolate cake, but I can give you loads of affirmation and a big pot of curry.

—–

Do you find it difficult to ask for mentorship from women who have lived more life from you? What has been your experience in seeking out an older woman to disciple you in your journey?

—–

This is The Grove and we want to hear from you! You can link up your blog post, or share your practices, ponderings, wisdom, questions, ideas, and creative expressions with us in the comments below.

Here’s our Instagram collection from this week using #VelvetAshesAging. You can add yours!

24 Comments

  1. Jan June 1, 2017

    I have seen in the last decade or so that the younger women are looking for mentors, and we older women want to do it (I’m 47), but many of us don’t know how because we didn’t receive mentoring! I’ve often asked the younger ladies what they expect from me, and I’ve slowly been learning, but I’m afraid of not meeting their expectations, of disappointing them, of not giving them the right answers! How can we be better mentors to you?

    1. Tammy June 2, 2017

      Something that has helped me connect with younger women is praying with them. When I’m chatting with a woman and she mentions something going on in her life I ask if we can pray. I stop right then and pray for her situation. In the past I might say that I would pray for them but I never stopped to pray with them. Then later in the week I text her to ask how she’s doing. The act of praying with someone is so uncommon these days that I’m more often than not met with a shocked look and then a happy, “sure!” So my suggestion is to start there and ask the Lord to show you what to do next.

      1. Tammy June 2, 2017

        Sorry for the HUGE, sideways photo. That was supposed to be my profile picture! LOL

        1. Ellyn Hunt June 3, 2017

          Tammy, I almost did the exact same thing with the picture! The only reason I didn’t is because I read your comment first LOL 😀

        2. Michele June 4, 2017

          Thanks for some great advice! And how do you get the profile pic to load right? I’ve never figured it out so am still a white shadow figure on here! 🙂

          1. Tammy June 6, 2017

            I haven’t figured it out yet. Mine is still a white shadow figure! At least that is what is appears to me on my end.

      2. Lauren Pinkston June 8, 2017

        Love this, Tammy. It’s true that I often say I’ll pray for someone but never do. It’s great that you stop then and pray for the women you are seeking relationships with! I think you’re onto something in allowing the Lord to take things from there…

    2. Lauren Pinkston June 8, 2017

      Jan, I was sitting here with my mother discussing your comment (I’m lucky enough to have her visiting me in SE Asia -yay!). Anyways, she was also reflecting that while she had women teaching her how to clean stains out of clothes or make good cornbread, the more private pieces of life were not talked about between many women of the past generation. So relationships, emotional stress, or the like were sort of off-limits when talking with her mother or grandmother. Not that this experience can be a blanket assumption, but I think there is a new kind of mentoring unique to today’s younger generation that comes unnaturally because so many have missed seeing it modeled. Mostly because the needs of the 20-30 somethings of today are different from the 20-30 somethings of years past.

      I really think we need mentors who can minimize our differences, though, and connect with us on our similarities. Because there are just some life experiences that transcend every generation. I like what Tammy said below – get to know us, and pray for us. That’s what I’m looking for, at least! 🙂

  2. Melissa June 1, 2017

    I feel like I’m walking the line between older and younger at 34 with a housefull of little ones, but… I would say, what would really help me when I look for a mentor is making it easy to get close and be friends in the first place. I think sometimes we all find it easier to stick with people who are like us – age, stage, life experience, etc. But it is the people who are ahead or behind who can help us find these life-giving mentor ship relationship roles. Tell me my baby is cute and you want to hold him for a while, ask how I’m managing all those kids at home these days or what are the new challenges with their new ages… just walk up to me and hold out your hand and start with ‘hi’! Or if I come up to you, help keep that conversation going through those interruptions of my little ones ’cause I’m having trouble focusing on anything adult level my whole life long! Help us get to the deeper connection. That’s what I’d most want.

    1. Lauren Pinkston June 8, 2017

      So good, Melissa. I resonate with what you said here so much. It’s less of a structure or script, and more of a natural relationship. I’m looking for mentors who are easy, life-giving people whose company I can enjoy!

  3. Lindsey Brewer June 2, 2017

    Well, at 41 I’m not sure if I am in the older category or not but I’m definitely older than you! 🙂 But you did all these things WAY before I did- I spent my 20’s in a job and my late thirties/early 40’s doing all the NEW things…marriage, motherhood, career change , (moving toward) adoption, and moving overseas. So I guess I’m a little out of the norm in this area. I would consider you much more of a mentor to me! 😉

    1. Lauren Pinkston June 8, 2017

      That just means you were more prepared to step into these new experiences, and way more mature than me! Love sharing this country with you 🙂

  4. Jodie June 2, 2017

    I linked my blog post, that doesn’t actually relate with us looking for mentors or being mentors for each other, but is more about our TCK’s finding mentors as they grow older. My oldest son just graduated from college and I shared some from his commencement speech “Greatness is Found in Humility.” I thought some of you might enjoy reading/watching the video of his speech.

    1. Lauren Pinkston June 8, 2017

      Thanks, Jodie! I can’t wait to read! Such a great thing to share.

  5. Ellie June 3, 2017

    I have just turned forty and thinking my 30s have been a heck of a hard ride with “new” and I once preached a whole sermon about how we needed to be thinking in terms of mentors in the church so these are interesting topics of reflection to me! 😉

    My experience has been that when I’ve asked (one or two) older women to be a mentor they have kind of backed off rapidly saying (as Jan said) they don’t know how. I know that people are busy and one lady just didn’t feel equal to it – she didn’t feel she was good enough.. which felt silly to me – because she was older with older kids who had all survived her choices(!) so she definitely knew more about it than me and that’s all I wanted! (Plus a faithful Christian seeking to put God first) but I felt rejected, which I’m sure wasn’t what she intended..

    So I’m wondering what I mean by “mentor”. I think we probably have different mentors for different things and some are more “formal” or frequent than others, but one thing that has been important to me is just “quality time for conversation”. It doesn’t have to be often but someone inviting you for a coffee (with the kids and the mess) or to meet up in a park or whatever and just spend an hour chatting about how you are doing. It will probably be a little top-down in that they might need to do the asking about a lot of things and you actually want them to share how they’ve done things in their life (and mainly the mantra about not worrying and “look, see, I didn’t always get it right but you’re doing fine”) but it’s not one way it’s just more like 2/3 and 1/3 of who’s asking about whom maybe.

    And I don’t need you to do anything for me other than that really. If you pray that’s a bonus. If you make a meal when I have a young baby and drop it round, that’s great. If you tell me I’m doing fine, that’s the gold star of things for me.

    A mentor is someone who gets alongside someone and so has to be non-judgemental. – It’s not about seeing your school headmistress as a child.. And I sometimes feel like that encouraging is a role that parents (should) have but not all of us have parents that can do that for one reason or another and so we might be particularly in need of that encouragement/peace spoken over us.

    Now I think about a couple of younger ladies I would perhaps say I “mentor” and my concern is often that I do too much of the talking or I’m too didactic – telling them what’s worked in my life. And I don’t know if that’s true. I think I just have to check in and see – if I ask gently or am at least self- aware if I’m going off on a long tale(!) then there’s the chance to rein it back in if it’s not helpful to them – sort of trying to be other-aware I guess.

    But sometimes in conversations where I feel like I’ve talked about myself and thought that I’ve been unhelpful (like one where I talked about how I had met my husband and got married in answer to a question from a single friend) I worried that I’d been really inconsiderate of her feelings by responding at some length with our story to something I assumed later might have been just a polite question and she might have been struggling with our “happy ever after” as a single she said (some time later) that it had been so helpful in motivating her in her praying for her future husband(!)

    So I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes we have self-confidence/esteem issues as women and when we’re doing something useful and loving and helpful because we’ve been taught to prefer others above ourselves we can sometimes feel like we shouldn’t talk about ourselves but actually it can be really helpful so perhaps we have to push ourselves out of our “comfort zones” in a way to be uncomfortable in talking about ourselves sometimes? (Now worrying my answer is too long – – Goes away to give self a good talking-to on self esteem/pushing out of comfort zone – eek!)

    1. Melissa June 3, 2017

      Well I for one find your lengthy comment super helpful!

    2. Lauren Pinkston June 8, 2017

      I agree with Melissa – this was great, Ellie! I think I leave almost every conversation fearing I’ve talked to much. But I love the phrase you shared about true mentorship: “quality time for conversation”. If we simply create space for others to share their hearts and concerns and dreams and successes, they’ll come up alongside us and I believe feel very nurtured and cared for.

      Excellent thoughts – thanks for sharing!

  6. Ellyn Hunt June 3, 2017

    Loved this post! I’m right there with you about the NEWNEWNEWNEW craziness of the 20’s (I’ll turn 28 in just a few months)! I found it hard to find a mentor who could relate to me when I first moved overseas, especially because my first daughter was born in Peru. Most older Christian women that I knew would say things like “I would never do that” or “I can’t believe you’re so brave” … what they didn’t realize is that I was usually scared to death and just needed someone to tell me it would all be OK! 🙂

    Something that helped me was reaching out and asking women that I looked up to for prayer about specific things. They might not have been able to understand my frustration about going to the immigration office, but they would understand how hard it was to bounce a baby on my hip while I waited in the line! There are several older women in my life who I would consider my mentors today, not because they have done the same things that I have, but because they are always there for me to pray and listen…. and sometimes “slap me around a bit” as you said!

    1. Lauren Pinkston June 8, 2017

      Amen, Amen. Did you deliver your daughter in Lima? I have some GREAT friends in Cusco! I’m so with you here. I’ve adopted in Uganda and delivered in Bangkok and immigration offices + processes are a NIGHTMAREEEEEE. But I don’t expect other women to have walked those same paths as me. I just need them to pat me on the back and reassure me that I’m raising my kids well. And of course the occasional kick in the pants. 🙂

  7. Tammy June 6, 2017

    A good book on this topic is Adorned by Nance DeMoss Wolgemuth. Its a new book on mentoring that includes advice for the older and the younger women.

  8. Ashley Felder June 8, 2017

    I went through college being discipled all 4 years by an older student/gal and grew leaps and bounds in my faith. When I graduated, BOOM, it was over! Except, bad timing, because I was dating for the first time (LONG distance–he was in China!), I was taking a job I didn’t really want, and my future husband was asking me to think about moving to China. I needed a mentor! I went to my fellowship and asked for someone, but since they didn’t have a program set up, the senior pastor’s wife met with me for the summer. She is a crucial part of my story of moving overseas. She spoke a word from the Lord straight to my heart, and it’s what keeps me here during the horrible times. Yes…mentoring is a beautiful thing, and I’m not sure what has happened in churches to let it fall through the cracks.

    I’m curious, though, how do you all even find a mentor, since you live a million miles away from home?! I’m grateful and thankful to have 3 women on my team that span a fairly wide age range, so we all learn from each other. I know that’s not the case for most…so how do you do it? When you go back, do you hunt for someone at church? Do you already know someone, and just contact them from where you are, asking to start up a consistent chat time? Fill me in! I’m curious! And wouldn’t mind more wise women pouring into me. Although, I do feel that if we have someone pouring into us, was MUST pour into someone younger than us. It’s how the cycle continues, right? None of this “I’m not good enough” stuff. If we’re abiding in Him, He’ll equip us!

    1. Michele June 8, 2017

      I was 28 when I first came to SE Asia, and though I had three weeks of help from a leader in my organization in Singapore before going, in my city I was the first one, followed six weeks later by a couple five-six years younger than me! My designated ‘bridge person’ lived an hour plus bus ride away and was very busy, so we had little contact. I found a mentor in my language helper and in many ways she continued in that role throughout my decade there. I found other mentors as well as spiritual father figures all in the host culture. I realize that’s not always an option, especially in a totally unreached area, but it bonded me to the culture in a very deep way and I learned and grew so much through these relationships I can’t imagine who I would even be now without them! If there’s any possibility of it, and even more if there is no teammate or fellow expat to mentor you, I would recommend looking for a local mentor. It may need to be supplemented by a long-distance connection with someone of your own culture, but it can be a real blessing in many ways!

    2. Lauren Pinkston June 8, 2017

      This is great, Ashley. First, that you had the experience through college and before moving to China – what a blessing! I love your comment about needing to pour into someone younger if we are being mentored by someone older. Good stuff.

      I found that my expat community here was pretty tight-knit, so I went outside this community and approached a woman I deeply respect in America to be that life-giving champion for me. I know I can call her any time I’m struggling. She doesn’t have experience living abroad, but she’s one heck of a cheerleader and accountability partner. So it works for me!

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>