I realized my life had a gaping hole in it and I'd only just figured out what it was.
I was mentor-less.
Thirteen years ago, I moved back to the community I grew up in with my husband of three years, and two teeny little boys. I'd had mentors before. Not formal ones, really, but friendships with women a stage or two ahead of me. I treasured them, but after moving, these friendships slipped into the background without the everyday closeness we'd once shared.
So here I was in the town of my youth, attending the church of my youth after being away eight years, starting over with my sister (who had also recently moved back) as my only friend.
I made friends my own age quickly, and began to get involved in ministry to moms through Mothers of Preschoolers mostly because I needed it so badly myself.
After years of involvement there, and holding leadership roles among women my own age, still I remained mentor-less.
When I figured out what I'd been missing that day in my bathroom, I chalked it up to two things:
1) I wasn't placing myself in circles with women in my church or community who were older and wiser than myself. How were they supposed to know I had a need if they didn't know me?
2) A large portion of the women older and wiser than myself might be assuming my generation of women and mothers don't need them or want them in our lives, therefore are afraid to reach out for fear of rejection.
When I was six months pregnant with my fourth child, I sat on a stage in Kansas City, Missouri on a panel in front of a large room of female ministry leaders who were a generation or so ahead of me pleading with them to mentor us.
I watched their eyes widen with tears in the corners and heads shake in disbelief as I told them we needed them. We wanted them. We ached for their presence in our lives.
And that we were sorry, we just don't know how to communicate it. Because sometimes we don't know what we're missing.
The internet has distracted us. We think Google is a fine replacement for another woman who's been there.
We think social media and online Facebook groups are suitable trade-outs for sitting together on a blanket at a park catching up while our kids play and hers are getting married and having babies of their own.
We're prideful. We think we shouldn't need help. We should be able to do this on our own.
We think she won't understand our lives. Our complicated, messy lives. But we don't always accept that she has her own messy and complicated, and gets us more than we know.
I haven't written about it publicly here in this space, and will soon, but we're moving all the way across the continent later this summer, and I've just now started a relationship here at my church, here in this town, that I believe would have and could have turned into this sort of mentoring relationship.
All it took was me reaching out and saying HELP. I need you. Can we talk? It's been a precious thing.
I believe God has placed and will place mentors ahead of me in our new town, in our new life. But it's going to take some work on my part too. I'll need to reach out and make myself vulnerable. And do you know what? I'm so excited.
There's much more to say on the topic, more of which I hope to talk further on. I'm just a mom trying to tap this out before my kids come barrelling up the stairs for breakfast. The struggle is very real.
Before we step away and move on with our day, how about we take inventory of how we're truly doing in this regard?
How are we doing at reaching out to women ahead of us and behind us?
How are we at accepting help and vulnerable friendship?
How are we at giving help and being a safe place?
Have you been missing these kinds of relationships too?