I’m mentoring two women who are over the age of 50.
I’m also a good 20 years younger than them.
One has grandchildren.
A few months ago, I started volunteering with the local Christian Women’s Job Corps. It’s a ministry that seeks to equip women with skills they need for job readiness. I can’t speak for all CWJC sites, but at mine, a group of 8-12 women go through a 9-week semester of training in everything from interviewing skills to computer literacy to healthy relationships. They begin each day with Bible study, and they learn the strength that comes from loving each other in community.
Some of these women have been in prison. Some have suffered abuse. Some have conquered drug or alcohol addiction. Others struggle with mental illness.
All of them are bettering themselves in order to change their lives. They know that the paths they were traveling down have led them nowhere and they understand that their stories have to change.
When their semester ended last week, I was enlisted to begin mentoring relationships with two of the ladies. While I was excited about the possibility of investing in their lives for the long-term, I must confess that I felt completely inadequate for the task.
Both of the women have criminal pasts. My only brush with the law was when I had to appear before a judge as I paid my speeding ticket last year. That encounter left me shaky and in tears. What could I possibly offer to women who had been convicted of crimes?
Both of the women are nearly twenty years older than me. I’ve always acted older than my age, but I still call my daddy when I have car problems, so I’m not exactly that mature.
One of the women runs her own business. The only business I’ve ever run was a lemonade stand, and I didn’t sell even one cup to anyone outside of my family.
The other woman lost a baby and she’s spent much of the rest of her life paralyzed from the grief of that loss. I felt like such a poser. A naive single girl who just thought she had something to contribute.
The site director told me that mentors were needed to help hold the women accountable, to check in with them to make sure that they were not falling back into their previous lifestyle. They might need someone who could help them with resumes or college information, someone who could take them for lunch or coffee occasionally. After their graduation, I told them I would call them in the middle of the week and we would plan a time to go to lunch.
Then I got a little bit of distance between myself and the women.
And resistance set in.
It was just a few days until questions came out of nowhere: What had I gotten myself into? Did I really have room for them in my life? Why didn’t I just commit to the semester and not beyond? Did I really have to call them or actually meet with them? Wouldn’t a text message or an email do? Wouldn’t praying for them be more than enough?
Fortunately, the Holy Spirit reminded me that all of the questions and fears of inadequacy were lies from the Enemy. Lies designed to keep all three of us from experiencing the blessings that come through obedience.
It was a battle to dial those phone numbers. Not a battle of epic proportions, but it was a battle. For starters, I hate talking on the phone. Really, I do. And, if I were to be completely honest, when I did dial, I was hoping that no one would answer. But, as the Lord would have it, she did.
We’re having lunch on Tuesday and I’m excited about it.
Sometimes just making the first move is the hardest battle of all.