Saturday, April 11, 2015

Using Our Life Experiences in Active Relational Christian Mentoring

“Lord, where would I be without encouragers in my life?
They lift my spirits and point me toward You!
Thank You for these special people. And please, Father,
gift me with encouragement, that I may offer
the same hope to others. Amen”
Janis Hanna

When we think about mentors and mentoring the first thing that often comes to mind is someone who mentors another in a career, academic area, or even a trade. But ARCM is so much more. As Christians we have the responsibility to mentor both Christian and non-Christian women in whatever area they may need help, support, encouragement, or knowledge. Moreover, each Christian woman has been given not only unique gifts or talents she can share with another, but she may have that special knowledge or even life experience that can help someone.

You may think that you don’t have anything that anyone would want to learn from you. I can assure you that each of our lives is just as unique as the individuals that we all are. In fact, it is our daily lives that have contributed to who we have become thus far. The pages in our life story are filled with incidents of joy, sadness, beauty and pain. Although some of our life experiences or pages within our story may have been hard to deal with, they, nevertheless, are now part of who we are. For instance, that woman who survived an abusive relationship has a great deal to contribute to the mentoring of a woman that is presently being abused. Or, as in my case, the life experience of being struck by a car while in a crosswalk has made me the woman that I am today. Although, I wouldn't want any woman to have to go through what I went through, I can now mentor other women on faith in God, on dealing with constant pain, on knowledge of the Bible, on hope, on blessings, on the Gospel message and so much more. Although I don’t always get out and about the way many working women do, God has placed many mentoring opportunities in front of me. I just have to be observant and listen to God when He presents a mentee to me.

Many things, both good and bad, that happen in our lives give us wisdom, greater faith, greater strength and endurance, as well as empathy for others who may experience a similar situation. Drawing upon our life experiences, we can encourage and give mentoring support to those who are going through a similar hard time.

Although God does not cause terrible things to happen to us, He does use those earthly situations and their pain to grow us and refine us so that we can become strong individuals who love God with all our heart and soul.  We have a choice, though, of how we react to what this earthly life throws at us. We can lean upon God and grow from the experience, or we can refuse to lean on God and become bitter and hateful for what has happened to us.

I saw firsthand how refusing to trust in and lean upon God can lead to bitterness and a failure to see the possibilities in life and the potential blessings. After six months in the hospital, I had gone through yet another surgery when one of my nurses told me about a young lady on my floor who had been in a terrible car accident. She, like me, had broken legs and a broken pelvis. The nurse asked if I could write an encouraging note to the young lady, as she was constantly whining and complaining. She was only sixteen, but I was only eighteen, so we should have had more things in common than not. Unfortunately, our similarities stopped with our similar medical situation.

This was my first encounter with mentoring another person sight unseen. But, I wrote a note and introduced myself saying that I would like to be her friend. I explained how I was in a similar situation. I explained that life throws us unexpected curves, but that we can face each situation head on and try to do the best that we can. With God’s help we can overcome our problems and lead a life that can be even greater than we ever dreamed. I also asked if we could be pen pals to encourage and support each other.

I never heard back from her, and the nurse told me she threw my notes away. For days, we could all hear her strident voice of complaints up and down the hospital corridor. As she continued to complain, she grew ever bitterer. She believed that her life had been taken from her with the accident, even though she would heal and walk again. Although, I never found out how her life turned out, I knew that if she didn't change her attitude of self-pity and victimization that she was going to have a rough time throughout life. I hope someone was able to speak into her life and mentor her.

This situation was where I learned that the things that happen to us in life can be used to help, encourage and support other people. Although this young lady did not take my help, I knew that I had done the right thing. I also knew that I could not let the rejection from one person keep me from trying to help others when I could. So, I continued to use my life to help others deal with both physical and emotional pain, to gain knowledge from the Bible, and to deal with problems in life. As Christians our lives are to be lived for Christ. Christ helped many people in all walks of life with all kinds of problems. As His followers we are to do the same. We can help other women through Active Relational Christian Mentoring (ARCM).

It means nothing if we just say that we have faith in Christ, but then we do not show our faith by adhering to Christ’s teachings. James, the brother of Jesus, said that it is through our Christian works that we show that we have faith in Christ. James says, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. …I will show you my faith by my works.”  -- (James 2: 14-18).

Certainly we have to first have faith in Christ to believe and receive Salvation. But, as Christians we have to use our faith to engage in works that show our faith and help others. Although James gave us the example of giving food and clothing, there are many other ways that we can show our faith through our works. ARCM is a way that Christian women can be there for other women; showing our faith and trust in Christ as we mentor. Whether her need is emotional, physical as in needing food and clothing, or simply the need to acquire a skill or develop a talent, we can be there to help, encourage or empower her. We can also be there for her spiritual need. We can be there to help a non-Christian understand the Gospel message or to help a Christian develop even greater faith in and understanding of God.

God places each Christian woman in the path of other women: some who may need help with a problem, whether emotional, spiritual or physical; some who may need help in learning a skill; or some who need help or support in learning to use their gifting. Other women may need just a kind word or listening ear. Still others may need to hear the Good News of Christ. As Christian mentors we can be there for these women, one person at a time. We can reach out with love; seeing beyond our own problems to the needs of other women. We can use our life experiences to encourage and support women who are in similar situations to what we have experienced. You can be that Christian woman who speaks into the life of another woman. You can mentor her for the Lord!

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever;
with my mouth I will make known
thy faithfulness to all generations.

– Psalm 89: 1 KJV

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