Although I never subscribed to them, every month, I receive a copy of the O The Oprah Magazine and Seventeen. My friend told me that I must have bought something online and signed up for these magazines. I hardly shop online so, I can’t say that that’s why I’m getting these magazines. At any rate, I toss Seventeen and keep the Oprah magazine for mindless perusing.
One month, however, I flipped through Seventeen to see what teenagers are into these days. Since I have a teenage son, I thought it would be good for me to start learning about this special group of people. I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised to find educational and inspiring articles. There was an article about teenage girls developing apps to make a difference in the world. The article featured a 16 year old girl creating a game that will help end global warming, a 17 year old girl creating an app that will help girls in developing countries find nearby clinics. I was so inspired that I ripped those pages right out of the magazine and put them on my son’s desk, a 14 year old with an incessant appetite to tell me all about the Power Rangers.
On the front page of Seventeen featured cover stories such as “Body Confidence Now!” “Amp Up Your Look,” “Is School Messing with Your Skin?” etc. Ok, I get it. I remember reading about these when I was a teenager too. Also in my 20’s, 30’s in Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Mademoiselle… Now in my 40’s?
I looked at the feature stories on the O magazine, “The Road to Real Riches, why giving back is so good for your wallet,” “5 Simple ways to Boost Your Health,” “Do you enjoy a fine Whine? How to stop wallowing for good.” At first glance, it appears that we’ve evolved and are now pondering on the real issues such as giving back and failing health in our mid life. Have we gotten over our body image issues? Are we comfortable in our appearances, our complexion, and the size of our jeans? Are we getting better as we grow older? Are we getting wiser? Are we pulling ourselves above the bar of status quo as we push forward our next generation of women?
In all the famous people that I read about, there always seemed to be a mentor or some type of a mentor-like figure who had greatly impacted their lives. As for me, I couldn’t think of one person. Sure, my mom is my great heroine, but I can’t say that she has been a mentor to me. Having to immigrate to America at an early age, I became very independent early on. I never really asked for my mom’s advice on anything. I admire her for how she lived her life but I can’t say that she impacted my life the way a mentor would. I think I always searched for a mentor but why I didn’t find one, I don’t know.
In 2014, I met a friend through my colleague. This friend, I’ll call Tina, came to my office after quitting her associate attorney position at a firm. She wanted to start her own practice. I offered her a free room in my office suite for her temporary use. She was younger than me, about few years into her career as an attorney. I liked her a lot: she seemed bright and cheerful, a fun person to be around. As I got to know her better, though, I saw certain traits in her that I felt that she can improve on. I made some suggestions and she seemed to appreciate my suggestions.
Around that time, on Sunday, our pastors at our church gave a message on mentorship. He shared the message of Elijah mentoring Elisha and how Elijah’s mantle fell on Elisha as Elijah was taken up to heaven. Elisha, the mentee, had now taken after his mentor, Elijah. The story is found in 2 Kings, chapter 2. As I sat at the church listening to this great message, I wondered why I didn’t have a mentor and asked God for a mentor.
During the same week, I heard another message about mentorship, then another. I heard three different messages on mentorship when I didn’t seek them out. I just happened to listen to random messages and they all talked about how to be a mentor and how to look for a mentor. The third time around, I felt that God was asking me to be mentor, first to Tina, and to others. I thought about this but thought that I wasn’t qualified. So what did I do? I started to learn about mentorship.
I read books on mentorship: As Iron Sharpens Iron by Howard & William Hendricks; Impact My Life: Biblical Mentoring Simplified by Elisa Pulliam; Woman to Woman: Preparing Yourself to Mentor by Edna Elisson & Tricia Scribner; Mentor Like Jesus by Regi Campbell and Richard Chancy; Transforming Together: Authentic Spiritual Mentoring by Ele Parrott; and Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney. I also watched sermons, lectures, seminars on mentorship and leadership skills. Then, I approached Tina and asked her how she would feel about me mentoring her. She got so excited and happily accepted my offer.
I wish I can say that it was a great experience. I wish I can say that Tina and I bonded in our mentor/mentee relationship. I wish I can say I saw Tina stepping into her purpose through our relationship. But none of that happened. The relationship fizzled out on misunderstandings and disappointments. I got disappointed at me and Tina. Sometimes, I still wonder if our relationship would have been better if I had never offered the mentorship to Tina.
After my experience with Tina, I thought that perhaps, one-on- one mentorship wasn’t my gift. Perhaps I should concentrate more on mentoring the small bible study I was leading. We were all mentors and mentees to each other in this group. We were creating bonds and growing together, being a life support for each other.
Then early 2016, an assistant approached me timidly. She asked if she can talk to me sometime and I invited her to lunch that week thinking that she’ll probably want to talk to me about applying to law schools. I had heard her talking about wanting to go to law school. When we met, however, she had bigger issues, struggling with two young children, working full time, and she had major relationship issues. As I sat there and listened to her story, I consciously stopped myself from dispensing pop psychology answers. I listened to her story and I thanked her for sharing it with me. I asked her why she felt that she had to talk to me when we really didn’t know each other that well. She simply said that she just had to. She felt that I would give her the answers.
Well, I didn’t give her the answers that day. I told her that I will pray about it and see what God wants to say to her. We decided to meet again in a week. And from there, our weekly bible study/mentorship began. I didn’t look for it and I didn’t ask for it. It just naturally happened because there was a need. She was lost and God told me to help her. At first, I kept telling her and praying that she would find a church she can get plugged into. She had a strong desire to know about God and I felt that a church would be the place to fulfill her needs. But it didn’t take long for God to tell me that I was the outlet that God wanted to use to get her plugged in. It didn’t take long for me to realize that we are the church when she and I meet together in the name of Jesus.
Since that first meeting and every week thereafter, I saw her growing as a woman. She ended up breaking up with her abusive boyfriend, moving back home with her parents where she received the support that she needed, taking the LSAT and applying to law schools all the while holding a full time job. Oh, and she settled into a loving relationship despite my advice not to rush into another relationship. We don’t agree on everything but I’ve learned not to get disappointed that she doesn’t take my advice a 100% of time. I don’t have full faith in her. My faith lies with God, the power of the word of God, that as I share the living word of God, she will be transformed. That’s where my faith lies.
I have learned to understand that all of our experiences, no matter how much we wish we hadn’t experienced it, will be used for His glory. Our experiences will not be wasted because our God is good. He is always good. In the world full of pull ups and pushups, it is our combined experiences from Seventeen to O that will pull us up and push the next generation forward. This is why I envision a world full of pull ups and push ups.