The Memoir of a Mentee
The sunshine shone radiantly through the large picture windows of the conference room. I almost missed the petite woman with the short blond hair as my eyes adjusted to the brightness. When I walked around the rectangular table and faced her I couldn’t help notice her sad eyes and slumped shoulders as she sat in the hard-backed black chair.
As I adjusted the blinds I introduced myself, “Hi, I’m Joan Gallagher and I’m the Guest Relations coordinator. Thanks for meeting with me, I’d love to get to know you and your story. I understand you would like to volunteer for this ministry.”
Her words and her manner were as sad as her eyes, “Yes. I’ve been at this church for a long time and I guess I should do something. I just feel lonely and I need a place to feel like I belong.”
Her soul was yearning for connection, and to know she mattered in this world.
“Laura, would you mind telling me a little about you? Start where ever you would like in your story,” I gently encouraged.
With her eyes downcast, Laura started her story. “Ok, well as I said I’ve been attending here for a long time. I’ve had two failed marriages and I am in a relationship right now that I know does not honor God. I’ve known Jesus as my Savior for a long time and I’ve even been baptized. But somewhere along the way I lost my bond with Him. Maybe it’s my failed marriages. My first husband belonged to a different religion and his family never accepted me, I was an outsider. He also was an alcoholic and he refused to admit he had a problem, let alone do anything about it. After we divorced I married two short years later and had a similar damaging relationship by marrying an alcoholic and drug adict.”
Tears welled up in her eyes and for a short moment we sat in the quiet aura of the moment.
“I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this but I can’t go on like I am, living in a way God didn’t intend for me. Right now I date a man who has no interest in taking me as his wife but does expect me to have sex with him. He makes me a part of his family and I thought the connection with his children and grandchildren would give me the fulfillment I have been looking for. But I guess I’m not really connected if the price for being a part is having sex.” Tears spilled over the rim of her lids, and sadness engulfed her face.
Her candidness revealed her desire to see her life become more than just the “you-give-me and I’ll-give-you” kind of relationships. She admitted she struggled with confusion about how to overcome her fear, defeat, and shame.
The need for more volunteers in the ministry paled in comparison to the broken heart of a woman who needed to know she mattered. Laura and I agreed we would put serving on hold until she took some actions steps to help her heal. She began to meet with a Christian counselor and we met regularly to pray and do life together. God allowed me to pour His extravagant love out on her. As the realization of that love began to bring her anemic heart back to life, she knew it meant changes needed to take place. Her first step: break off her relationship with a man who truly did not care for her heart or her soul. The next time we met after this decision life filled her body and soul once again. Hope appeared, shining as warmth in her eyes. She trusted in God to be by her side because she belongs to Him and He wanted her to experience authentic love. This kind of extravagant love can only be found in a life in which God is so deeply intertwine with us we cannot be separated from Him.
Although hundreds of years separate Priscilla along with Aquila from Laura, they share a common bond. They both felt betrayal and heartache: Priscilla and Aquila from their homeland, and Laura by men who used her. They all found themselves at a pivotal crossroad. Priscilla and Aquila could have operated their lives out of self-pity and bitterness and use their persecution as an excuse to never move on or grow in life. Laura could have believed the lies in her head that said she was not worthy of having a loving relationship that is absent of pain and abuse. They chose the better road. They allowed love to teach them a new way. They chose the path of a mentee. There are two vital hope-markers in the life of a mentee. Priscilla, Aquila, and Laura learned them and embraced them. These hope-markers became such an intricate pattern in their lives they learned to affirm them in other’s lives. As mentees, they learned to espouse their value and embrace their story.
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