At age 17 I had just been through the one of the most painful and difficult times of my life as my family had left a legalistic, spiritually abusive religious organization.
Not only that, but I was at an awkward stage, without any direction for my future. I didn’t have a job (long story), wasn’t going to college at that point (another long story), and was basically at loose ends. I was depressed. Life felt meaningless. I had no confidence that I could do anything.
That’s when I met Gina.
We started attending the tiny church in our equally tiny East Texas community. Gina was our pastor’s wife. A few years older than me, she was pregnant and on bed rest with her fourth baby. I jumped at the opportunity to give her a hand.
Like my friend Natasia, Gina mentored me just by being who she was: a faithful follower of Jesus, a loving wife and mom, and a kind friend.
She reached out to me and believed in me. I remember her suggestion that I apply to substitute teach at the local public school. It was beyond my comprehension that anyone would think I was capable of doing such a job. That one small comment boosted my confidence a thousand fold.
I noticed how she interacted with her children—loving them, caring for them teaching them.
One small statement she made changed the way I viewed children altogether. She mentioned in passing that her goal was to help her children become independent. I came from a narrow subculture where the goal was actually to keep children dependent on their parents as long as possible (strange as that may sound), and it was revolutionary to me that independence was a worthy goal.
We became good friends.
The best part is that after Gina and her husband moved away, they introduced my husband and me. If our friendship wasn’t set in stone before, it certainly was then!
She also recommended the Bible study Search for Significance to me, which completely turned my life upside down in the best way, and helped me grow from fearful and insecure to strong and confident in my identity in Christ.
And after coming from a religious background that eschewed makeup, she gave me my first Mary Kay samples and showed me how to apply it. (I owe her!)
She’s still one of my very dearest friends. I go to her with questions about everything from teaching my kids to read to how to talk to my children about sensitive subjects.
Not only that, but four of her nine children are the same ages as four of mine—and they are close friends too.
What a joy to continue that legacy of friendship!
So you see, Gina didn’t necessarily set out to mentor me in any kind of rigid, planned fashion.
She was just my friend. And because she was my friend, she changed my life.
Who has mentored you just through their friendship? Who can you befriend today?
Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!