My friends and I and I just started doing 1,000 Gifts.
It’s the perfect time of the year for this. Dark cold mornings where I struggle to get up, feeling tired, feeling on the edge of depression, completely overwhelmed with the day to day. Needing very much to look up…
Homework this week included making a list of people who have been “models and mentors” to us in faith.
I feel as though I am going through a change of season. One that perhaps started a while ago, but that I’m only now starting to fully realise.
From where I stand I can look back over the last fourteen years and count five very special mentors. Five blessings. Five women. Five gifts of grace given to me for a period of time. These five women have seen me at my worst, and still managed to love me unconditionally. They opened their hearts to me, showed me their own vulnerabilities, and have made me feel safe, secure, and loved.
She took me in when I was pretty much homeless in Ireland. It was on her computer late one night housesitting for her that I met my future husband. She shared her home (and broadband) with me and let me make a big mess in it. (once that included throwing up on her carpet after getting very drunk) I could confess my darkest moments to her and be met with no judgement, only empathy, and something to make me laugh. Marie walked with me during some of the my early scary and dangerous crazy moments of early ministry experience coupled with simply growing up, where I stumbled around, slipped up, and got viciously attacked a few times. She was my haven, my safety, and my joy. She made me laugh hysterically and she encouraged me all the way, assuring me that God still loved me, and that His grace would never run out. She assured me all was not lost and that wonderful things were ahead of me, that this was just a bump in the road, not the end. She was beautiful and generous and she empowered me to start singing again.
A fellow stranger in a foreign land. She could recognise a mess when she saw one. Genuine old school hospitality. Sunday lunches and Saturday night meals. Several cups of tea. When we broke up…she was there. When I nearly didn’t get engaged out of fear, she was there. When I got married she created my entire dress from start to finish with no pattern, only my random ideas. When I was in crisis, she was there, (more than once). She put us on the path to our 11 months in South Africa where I learned some of the best lessons of my life.
My daughter paved the way for this beautiful mentor. My little nursing toddler melted her heart and reminded her of her own little girl now grown up. A busy woman doing a million things, she found time for me during those 11 months in South Africa. Found time to encourage and empower. Her heart for mothers stirred my own heart towards the world of loving and empowering mothers and when I think of her, I always smile, or get the urge to go make someone a meal.
The wise woman, but one you find yourself telling EVERYTHING to one evening over a glass of wine at a local pub. Merle has probably seen the most change in me over the time I’ve known her. She has seen me through several seasons of my life and met me where I was at in each one of them. She has overseen times of deep healing, as well as times of great pain. She has affirmed me, encouraged me, and loved me so much over the years. She sort of feels like a mother now. I take great comfort just knowing she’s there, regardless of how often we get to spend time together.
The most recent mentor. Completely full of affirmation and encouragement. Yet full of incredible wisdom and insight. She see’s straight into my heart and challenges the parts that need challenging. I can be honest and vulnerable and say all the things of my heart when I am with her. She offers fresh perspective. She comes from a different part of my life, outside the every day. She continues to mentor me and call out the doula in me. I watch her and hope one day to have the grace and confidence and naturally supernatural way she has about her.
I love these women. Without them…..I know I would not be where I am today, or who I am today.
Thank you….Five of 1,000 gifts.